Switzerland's Sepp Blatter has been re-elected as the president of world football's governing body FIFA following a first round ballot victory in Seoul over Cameroon's Issa Hayatou.This content was published on May 29, 2002 - 12:44
Despite having allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement levelled against him by his rivals, the 66-year-old Blatter comfortably secured a second term on Wednesday.
With 139 votes against Hayatou's 56, the man from canton Valais was able to secure the necessary two-thirds of the total ballot required to avoid a second round of voting.
In his acceptance speech before the FIFA Congress, Blatter thanked the association presidents for the "deep trust" which they had placed in him.
"You cannot imagine what it means for me (to be re-elected), having been accused for months by a directed press (campaign) telling people that I am a bad man."
Blatter has always rejected the allegations against him and has in turn accused UEFA supremo Lennart Johansson of masterminding a smear campaign. Blatter insists that Johansson is still sour at losing out to the Swiss in the last presidential vote four years ago.
Regardless of Blatter's impressive majority in Wednesday's Congress vote, the re-elected president is likely to face continued opposition from his executive committee, which includes among its members both Johansson and Hayatou.
From Hayatou himself there were at least hints of a possible reconciliation with the Cameroonian candidate quickly congratulating Blatter on Wednesday's victory.
"These very exciting elections, very emotional elections, have come to an end," Hayatou told the Congress. "I'd like to sincerely congratulate Mr. Blatter now, who has gained your trust. I should like to tell Mr. Blatter that he can count on me as he has in the past so he can work as a president should."
Blatter may still have to overcome a legal challenge in the Swiss courts from five of FIFA's seven vice-presidents, based on accusations made against him by his own general secretary and fellow Swiss Michel Zen-Ruffinen.
But despite the internal and financial struggles that could still lie ahead, Blatter was keen to state his optimism in the organisation's future following his latest great escape.
"In two years, FIFA will celebrate its centenary," Blatter pointed out at the end of Wednesday's speech. "This is the right time to give it a new lease on life, new dynamism and new strength. I want to be the man to lead this revival
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