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Challenger quits, Blatter re-elected by default

May 29, 2015

Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein has withdrawn his bid to become FIFA's next president. This means incumbent Sepp Blatter retains the top job amid a major corruption scandal.

FIFA President Sepp Blattter
Image: Reuters/A. Wiegmann

Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein has withdrawn his bid to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency. A secret vote was set to go to a surprise second round when the announcement was made.

"It has been a wonderful journey," the prince said.

"I want to thank all those brave enough to support me, but I will be withdrawing from the race."

To win in the first round a candidate needed to get a two-thirds majority of the 209 member federations in the first round.

Prince Ali garnered 73 votes, while Sepp Blatter managed 133 votes.

In the second round of voting, a simple majority would have sufficed for Blatter to claim another four-year term atop an organization he has led since 1998.

FIFA Kongress Ali bin Al Hussein
A surprising 73 members were 'brave' enough to vote for Prince AliImage: AFP/Getty Images/F. Coffrini

Change vs experience

Both men had promised to change the way the organization was run, with Prince Ali saying world football was at a "crossroads."

He called for a more inclusive approach.

Blatter meanwhile stressed his experience, saying he didn't want to leave FIFA just yet.

In his acceptance speech, Blatter thanked members for keeping him as head.

"I thank you, you have accepted me for the next four years," he said.

"I will be in command of this boat of FIFA, we will bring it back to shore."

Staying the course

FIFA has been hit by a number of scandals in recent years, including claims of worker abuse in building facilities for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The latest and most serious incident saw fourteen people charged over retrospective corruption allegations, leading to calls for Blatter to step down.

Prior to the vote, Blatter told a FIFA congress he was responsible for ensuring the body recovered from this latest incident.

He said world football needed "a strong and experienced leader," and that he would work towards "a FIFA that will have enough safeguards which will not need the political interventions."

Karte FIFA-Kontinentalverbände und Delegierte ENG

As part of the ceremonies, Blatter and Prince Ali shook hands, customary for officials who are leaving the FIFA executive committee.

Prince Ali had been a FIFA vice president, but opted not to stand for a new term in order to oppose Blatter.

Palestine drops Israel suspension bid, Germany cool on Russia boycott

Earlier, members were spared another controversial vote, with Palestine dropping its bid to have Israel suspended from international competition.

Palestinian football head Jibril Rajoub said Palestine wanted to keep politics and football separate, but warned that the move could be revived, if things didn't change.

Israel restricts the movement of Palestinian players, angering Palestine.

In a statement Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the news, saying peace between the two states "will not be achieved through coercion and distorting the truth."

In Germany, the head of the country's DFB football association, Wolfgang Niersbach, has played down the prospect of boycotting the next FIFA World Cup, to be held in Russia in 2018.

Niersbach said the side would not totally rule it out, but that they "know that a boycott is never a solution."

The DFB has been critical of Blatter's leadership of FIFA in recent years. Niersbach said in February he had advised Blatter not to go after another presidential term. Germany are the reigning FIFA World Cup champions.

an/msh (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)