Boyce: Criticism won’t harm Blatter

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Published: Tuesday 26th May 2015 by The News Editor

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The flak that has been aimed at FIFA president Sepp Blatter may have little, if any, effect in deciding the outcome of Friday’s election, Britain’s outgoing FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce has admitted.

Blatter is standing against Prince Ali Bin al Hussein of Jordan but, despite years of negative headlines, the 79-year-old is the overwhelming favourite to win a fifth term of office.

During Blatter’s 17-year tenure there have been numerous corruption allegations surrounding FIFA officials – many of them his former allies – and a number of FIFA members have received bans or resigned from football activities.

Boyce believes Blatter’s biggest mistake was not taking action against the likes of Jack Warner from Trinidad, Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira or former president Joao Havelange much earlier in his presidency, but says many of the 209 associations that make up FIFA will still support the incumbent.

Blatter has received formal backing from the Asian, African and South American confederations while at the CONCACAF congress a procession of association chiefs came forward to praise the FIFA president – one even likening him to Jesus Christ, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.

Boyce told Press Association Sport: “He has taken an awful lot of flak, but for the 209 associations they may view it differently and I think he will win the election comfortably.

“Sepp Blatter may not be a young man but when the associations ask him for things or invite him to occasions then he invariably helps them and visits them, and people appreciate that.”

Boyce said FIFA had changed for the better in the last four years but that action should have been taken against corruption much earlier.

He added: “My view is that he [Blatter] did not take action against the people he should have done several years ago, but what you can say is that those people have now departed.

“The people who acted in an improper manner should have been away years ago, the action was not quick enough.”

Boyce, from Northern Ireland and who will be succeeded by England’s David Gill on Friday, insisted Blatter did take views from FIFA executive committee members into account but accepted there were still incidents where they were presented with decisions that had already been taken.

One such decision was the announcement that FIFA had given the American rights for the 2026 World Cup to Fox – to avoid possible legal action over moving the 2022 World Cup to the winter – without any tender process or consultation with the ExCo.

“Sometimes people have been a little bit annoyed when they feel some decisions appear to have been taken before the ExCo have actually ratified those decisions,” said Boyce.

“But I have been there four years and I have found people have expressed their views in a very constructive manner and generally those views have been taken on board.

“I think it has improved greatly, I know that FIFA four years ago the amount of criticism was unbelievable. There have been a lot of changes and a lot of new people there, fresh voices and the members of the executive committee feeling they are allowed to express their views. There is more transparency and openness.

“Having said that the big problem FIFA have is trying to get away from this image that everyone is corrupt. They do a lot of good work that is not properly recognised.”

Karen Espelund, the Norwegian who became the first woman to sit on UEFA’s executive committee, says Blatter’s advantage shows the need for term limits.

She said in an interview: “There is an in-built conservative mechanism in the structure that should be changed. If you are in charge you can give out favours and put yourself into a very strong position.

“But people do not need to stay in the position for 15 or 20 years – that’s why I am in favour of term limits.

“A maximum of three term limits is more than enough for one person.

“You can see why the man and woman in the street is questioning this governing body when you have had all these members having to leave the executive committee due to confirmed corruption.”

Published: Tuesday 26th May 2015 by The News Editor

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