Sepp Blatter won an unprecedented fifth term as the president of FIFA on Friday amid what may be the largest controversy in his organization’s history.
The victory came after Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, who had been seen as the biggest threat to unseat Blatter, decided to withdraw from the election.
“I take the responsibility to bring back FIFA,” Blatter said after his victory was declared. “I’m convinced we can do it.”
“I promise you in the end of my term, I will give this FIFA to my successor in a very, very strong, strong position … and a good FIFA,” he continued.
Blatter’s reelection comes days after a number of FIFA officials and other related parties were arrested and extradited by Swiss authorities on corruption charges.
On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the arrests, which were made on behalf of the United States, were a result of a 47-count indictment for “racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, among other offenses, in connection with the defendants’ participation in a 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through the corruption of international soccer.”
Blatter himself was not part of this week’s indictment, Lynch would not comment on the possibility that he could later be named, saying the investigation is “ongoing.”
Swiss officials have also announced they will investigate the World Cup bids of Russia and Qatar, which are scheduled to host the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, respectively. Both nations have faced criticism not only for potentially employing corruption tactics to win their host roles, but also for preparations for the events.
However, despite protests during Friday’s congress and calls for his resignation and growing controversy, Blatter, perhaps the most powerful man in sports, emphasized that he is eager to continue overseeing the largest sports governing body in the world.
“I like my job,” Blatter said. “I’m not perfect. Nobody’s perfect, but we will do a good job together, I’m sure … So I thank you for the trust and confidence.”
Each nation has one vote in the FIFA presidential elections, and two-thirds of the vote is required for victory. However, Prince Ali’s bowing out ensured Blatter’s continued reign. U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said earlier on Friday that the U.S. would be backing Prince Ali.
Blatter was first elected in 1998. He was re-elected in 2002, 2007, 2011 and now in 2015. His new term will extend until 2019.
Blatter, addressing the FIFA congress following his election, did so with a jovial tone.
“You see I’m in [a] good mood,” Blatter said, in closing remarks, laughing. “It’s normal.” Nevertheless, he added, “I was a little bit nervous today, I admit.”
“Let me tell you, I like you,” he continued. “You brought me again into FIFA. I stay with you. You have voted for me. All those that [have] voted for Prince Ali, I congratulate you, [he is a] good candidate. But I am now the president of everybody. So I am the president of everybody. There is no reticence. There is just president of the whole FIFA. Voilà.”[review]