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UEFA boss applauds Blatter's rival

May 30, 2015

UEFA's head has congratulated the runner-up in the vote for FIFA president without mentioning the winner: Sepp Blatter. Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-Hussein dropped out of the running after losing the vote’s first round.

FIFA: Blatter Platini
Image: P. Schmidli/Getty Images

Michel Platini (right in photo), who leads Europe's governing soccer body, congratulated Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-Hussein on a valiant run to unseat Joseph "Sepp" Blatter (left) - and he managed to do so without mentioning the man who has presided over FIFA since 1998.

Platini had twice urged Blatter to resign after several FIFA higher-ups were arrested Wednesday, and UEFA members have criticized the president's running again after he had promised not to upon his re-election in 2011.

"I congratulate my friend Prince Ali for his admirable campaign and I take the opportunity to thank all the national associations who supported him," Platini said in a statement late Friday.

Ali, who had run on a transparency platform, garnered 73 votes to Blatter's 133 in the first tally and withdrew before the second round of Friday's election for FIFA president. "I want to thank all those brave enough to support me, but I will be withdrawing from the race," Ali said.

Victorious, Blatter warned Europe that it faced losing influence on his executive committee. He said FIFA "must have a better representation of the confederations and the number of members" on its executive panel - an explicit shot at the disproportionate number of seats held by UEFA.

Blatter did have supporters in Europe - namely Russia, where President Vladimir Putin has accused US authorities of initiating a corruption probe in order to strip the country of hosting the 2018 World Cup.

Americans upset, too

On Wednesday, US authorities ordered the arrests of eight FIFA delegates - including two vice presidents - on corruption charges in Switzerland.

The Trinidadian Jack Warner, a former vice president, surrended to national authorities Thursday. The US Justice Department accused 14 people of accepting over $150 million (135 million euros) in bribes for rigging marketing contracts and selecting South Africa to host the 2010 World Cup.

"While we are disappointed in the result of the election, we will continue to push for meaningful change within FIFA," US Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said Friday. "Our goal is governance of FIFA that is responsible, accountable, transparent and focused solely on the best interests of the game."

Unlike some national heads, the president of the German Football Association (DFB) Wolfgang Niersbach will not boycott FIFA's board. "We know that a boycott can never be a solution," Niersbach said on Friday.

Portugal's Luis Figo, who withdrew his candidacy last week, said: "Today was another dark day in Zurich. FIFA has lost, but, above everything, football has lost, and everyone who truly cares about it has lost, too."

The controversy over the corruption charges and Blatter's re-election nearly overshadowed an ultimately withdrawn bid by the Palestinian football association to have Israel temporarily booted from world soccer.

mkg/jr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)