Sepp Blatter was re-elected as the president of FIFA today amid allegations from U.S. and Swiss authorities of alleged corruption and bribery that have plagued soccer's international governing body.
Favored to win, Blatter, the eighth president of FIFA, or the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, beat Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, of Jordan, at the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich. Blatter has been in office since 1998. Born in Switzerland, the 79-year old oversaw FIFA when Russia was chosen to host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar was selected for the 2022 tournament.
Among the blocs that voted for Blatter’s challenger was the United States, which was one of the losing bidders for the 2022 World Cup. Blatter won when Ali conceded after the first round of voting failed to yield a two-thirds majority.
Blatter won the vote 133-73, which was short the required two-thirds majority. Before a necessary second vote for a simple majority was completed, Al-Hussein withdrew from the election.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department accused 14 people of corruption and racketeering conspiracy in a 47-count indictment. Nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were indicted, including two current FIFA vice presidents and the current and former presidents of CONCACAF, Jeffrey Webb and Jack Warner.
In a statement after the vote, US Soccer President Sunil Gulati, said, "While we are disappointed in the result of the election, we will continue to push for meaningful change within FIFA. Our goal is for governance of FIFA that is responsible, accountable, transparent and focused solely on the best interests of the game. This is what FIFA needs and deserves, and what the people who love our game around the world demand. We congratulate President Blatter and it is our hope he will make reform his number one priority to ensure the integrity of the sport across the world."
Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist from Smith College and author of “Circus Maximus: The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting The Olympics And The World Cup,” said today's re-election "reinforces the opinion that most soccer-savvy people already have, which is that Blatter has control over the organization, and the organization is corrupt."
"I am willing to accept the president of FIFA is responsible for everything but I would at least like to share that responsibility with everyone," Blatter said earlier in a presidential address on Friday in Zurich, Switzerland. "We cannot constantly supervise everyone in football ... you cannot ask everyone to behave ethically."
Zimbalist said he is skeptical that Blatter has no knowledge of FIFA's wrongdoing.
"I think that all trails lead back to Sepp Blatter," Zimbalist added. "I don't think there's any question about it."