Fifa Congress: Delaney among delegates told a shock result is still possible

Prince Ali and his supporters claim to have 60 votes from outside Europe

FAI chief executive John Delaney admits a Sepp Blatter victory is likely when delegates decide in Zurich today whether to grant the 79 year-old Swiss a fifth four-year team as Fifa president but he suggested that Prince Ali's campaign has not given up hope of springing a surprise.

Delaney said that when the Jordanian and his ally, the Dutch FA president Michael van Praag, addressed a meeting of Uefa delegates yesterday they claimed to have 60 votes from outside Europe. The figure is almost certainly an exaggeration as it would most likely be enough to deliver a majority for the challenger if it were true but the Irishman suggested their mood was upbeat. With Uefa’s leadership having previously considered the possibility of boycotting the election, they stressed the importance of the European voters playing their part if, as they believe is still possible, Blatter is to be unseated.

Uefa president Michel Platini, meanwhile, raised the possibility that, even if Blatter is successful today, his term might be cut short by an escalation of the corruption scandal currently engulfing his presidency.

“It was a very interesting meeting,” Delaney told Newstalk after emerging from it. “The board of Uefa met and they asked that we would attend the Fifa congress and look for a change of leadership in Fifa. That’s slightly changed from this morning’s meeting; they’ve now recommended that all of us go to the meeting vote in favour of Prince Ali.

“Platini,” he continued, “made the case that the only way he [Blatter] could be removed is by votes or by court action and we’ve all seen the events of yesterday. What might come to pass over the next couple of years, you’d never know. It’s like a movie at the moment.”

Immediate aim

Clearly, the more immediate aim for the Uefa grouping is to help Prince Ali, a Sandhurst and Princeton educated former air force officer, defeat the incumbent and if that is going to happen, it was repeatedly made clear, Europe needs to get the vote out.

“The most important thing would be that all 53 countries in Uefa would vote as a bloc,” said Delaney, “but you can never be assured of that given the connections that Blatter would have to certain countries (a small number are expected to stick with Blatter) and given some of the geographical breakdown. But what Platini and all of the leaders of European football were urging us today was that all 53 of us would support Prince Ali.

“He addressed the meeting earlier as well, laying out the reasons why we should support him and van Praag said that they have 60 votes from outside of Europe, against Blatter or pro-Prince Ali, so everybody today was being urged to vote to try to get the number up to 104 or 105 (the latter would be required for victory if all 209 countries participate). We’ll have to wait for the outcome of the vote tomorrow but if you were to ask me honestly, my heart says that I’d love Blatter to lose but my head says that he’ll win.”

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