FIFA delegates have dealt a crushing blow to moves to bring in term limits and age limits for officials – effectively giving the green light to president Sepp Blatter to stand for a fifth term in office next year.
Uefa and a number of European federations, including the Football Association, had proposed bringing in limits but that was defeated in a vote at Fifa’s Congress in Sao Paulo yesterday.
The decision leaves the way open for 78-year-old Blatter to stay in office next year – and for many years beyond.
Blatter faced calls from FA chairman Greg Dyke and a number of senior European members on Tuesday to keep to his 2011 pledge and step down next year, but he has made it clear to Fifa’s 209 member nations that he now intends to stand again.
The vote on limits came towards the end of a lengthy meeting where Blatter made the light-hearted suggestion that football could one day be played on other planets.
He also told delegates that the governing body was still involved in governance reforms.
He said: “We are still in our reform process but we are at the end,” he said.
“Our basic values of football of discipline, respect and fair play could be brought in everywhere in the world then we would have realised our objective but our objective never finishes.
“From north to west to east and south. . . and we shall wonder if one day our game is played on other planets and then one day we won’t have the World Cup, we will have interplanetary contests.”
Meanwhile, FIFA’s ethics investigator insists he has had access for some time to the “vast majority” of documents which have been the basis for fresh allegations of corruption involving the world governing body’s officials.
US attorney Michael Garcia also issued a veiled threat to officials such as Franz Beckenbauer who refused to co-operate with the investigation into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups that they could face “real penalties”.
The Sunday Times has published a number of allegations about payments made to officials, many from Africa, authorised by the now-banned former FIFA member Mohamed Bin Hammam which the newspaper has claimed was to boost support for Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid.
Garcia told the FIFA Congress: “Recently there have been assertions about what material I will or will not consider.
“No one should assume what information we have or do not have – we have reviewed the documents and the vast majority has been available to us for some time, well before the recent wave of news report.
“These will continue to be examined and reviewed and we have gone to what appears to be the original source of that data and are confident we will have full access to that before issuing any final report.
“What we cannot and will not do is postpone indefinitely completing our work because someone, somewhere will publish something else.”