John Delaney doesn’t want Sepp Blatter getting off hook

Unlike Uefa, FAI chief executive John Delaney believes tomorrow’s Fifa election should go ahead in order not to allow embattled President Sepp Blatter time to circle the wagons following yesterday’s dramatic events in Zurich which saw the dawn arrest of seven Fifa officials as part of investigations into corruption charges.

Unlike Uefa, FAI chief executive John Delaney believes tomorrow’s Fifa election should go ahead in order not to allow embattled President Sepp Blatter time to circle the wagons following yesterday’s dramatic events in Zurich which saw the dawn arrest of seven Fifa officials as part of investigations into corruption charges.

However, despite Blatter’s apparently weakened position, Delaney thinks the 79-year-old — who has been at Fifa’s helm since 1998 — will still command enough support from his power bases outside Europe to win a fifth term as president of football’s world governing body.

Although Uefa last night called for the election to be postponed for six months, Delaney believes it is now most opportune to heap pressure on the veteran figurehead.

“I’d prefer it to go ahead because a postponement would mean he’s feeling a bit more wary and he wants some time to survive,” said Delaney who is in Zurich for the Fifa Congress.

“I still expect him to win, unfortunately, but I’d prefer it to go ahead because if there was a kick to touch here it would probably create more space for him to try to survive. I hope it goes ahead, I hope he doesn’t win but, unfortunately, at this stage I would still expect him to win the vote.” The FAI boss said that Blatter, although not facing any charges himself, must take responsibility for Fifa’s failings.

“The culture within Fifa at the highest level seems to be corruption and bribery and poor governance and who has presided over all that but Sepp Blatter,” he told RTÉ.

“He will always say it wasn’t him and he didn’t know about it, all those wonderful sayings that he has, but he has presided over the running of Fifa while all this has happened. So he has to take responsibility.

“It’s not like he is the president of a club in Ireland or England, he’s president of the world game, the biggest game in the world. He’s presiding over all this and he just seems to float on in his own cocoon — ‘nothing to do with me, sir’.”

Delaney described the latest events as “shocking and very saddening”, saying, “if it wasn’t so serious it would seem like something out of a mafia movie.”

The FAI boss added: “I think it’s time for Sepp Blatter to step down now and let somebody else take over the running of Fifa to improve the image of Fifa but also to improve the governance of Fifa.”

Delaney will this morning attend a Uefa meeting at which the European governing body’s response to the crisis will be discussed. And, already, according to the FAI chief, there has been unofficial talk of boycotting Fifa tournaments which could, of course, include the World Cup.

“There could be radical things done like saying we won’t participate in Fifa tournaments,” he said.

Delaney’s suggestion was given weight by Uefa’s statement last night which included a vow that “European associations will decide on what further steps need to be taken to protect the game of football.”

In alignment with Uefa, the FAI will be voting in tomorrow’s election — if, as Fifa insist, it goes ahead — for Sepp Blatter’s only rival, Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan. “It will be interesting to see if the events of yesterday further Prince Ali’s cause,” said Delaney.

Meanwhile, Delaney yesterday admitted the FAI are not taking for granted Sunday week’s friendly against England in Dublin passing off without crowd disturbances. “We’re on alert,” he said. “Obviously we have to be on alert because there’s a certain element of risk attached to the game.

“Please God that both national anthems will be respected and we’ll be speaking about the match, not any other events around the game.”

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