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Argentinian ‘Godfather’ Julio Grondona
Thursday June 2,2011

By David Pilditch

SEPP Blatter’s henchman launched an extraordinary attack on England yesterday for daring to take a stand against corruption in world football
Argentina’s Julio Grondona – nicknamed The Godfather – accused FA bosses and British journalists of being “pirates” after exposing the biggest bribery scandal in the history of the game.
The football chief then added that he would never back England to host a World Cup unless it hands back the Falkland Islands.
His astonishing outburst came as discredited Blatter, 75, was re-elected Fifa president after a farcical secret ballot in Zurich.
In a tortuous process which took nearly two hours, delegates cast their votes for Blatter – the only candidate in the election.
Before the vote Blatter said: “I am the captain weathering the storm, this is a difficult period for Fifa and I admit that readily. Not only is the pyramid shaking but our ship has drawn some water.
“We must do something because I do not want ever again that we face this undignified situation.”
I am disappointed that the election happened but now the focus must be on where Fifa goes from here
Sports minister Hugh Robertson
The result showed that 203 out of 208 members voted, with Blatter securing 186 votes.
He was handed a giant bouquet of flowers as he entered the auditorium to a fanfare and applause before declaring: “We will put Fifa’s ship back on the right course in clear, transparent waters.”
Blatter, who has run Fifa since 1998, added: “Something marvellous has happened today.
“I thank you for your trust and confidence and together we will have four more years, provided the Lord gives me the life, energy and strength to continue on our path.
“I’m happy today we were once again able to bring solidarity and unity into Fifa.” Earlier, a move by the FA to postpone the election, backed by Prince William and Prime Minister David Cameron, ended in heavy defeat – and led to a series of stinging attacks.
Grondona, Fifa’s senior vice-president, took to the podium to present a report from the organisation’s finance committee.
But instead he angrily told the Congress: “We always have attacks from England which are mostly lies with the support of journalism which is more busy lying than telling the truth. This upsets and disturbs the Fifa family.
“I see it at every Congress. It looks like England is always complaining, so please, I say, will you leave the Fifa family alone, and when you speak, speak with truth.”
In an interview with a German press agency, Grondona revealed the reason he had dismissed out of hand England’s bid to land the 2018 World Cup last December.
He said: “With the English bid I said: ‘Let us be brief. If you give back the Falkland Islands, which belong to us, you will get my vote’. They then became sad and left.”
Leaders of associations from Haiti, the Congo DRC, Benin, Fiji and Cyprus all spoke out against the FA’s move. One senior delegate branded England’s bid to halt the election “a disgrace”.
Blatter stood unchallenged after Qatar’s Mohamed Bin Hammam pulled out of the race at the weekend hours before being suspended by Fifa over bribe allegations.
Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, from Trinidad, was also suspended pending a full investigation.
FA chairman David Bernstein called for the election to be postponed in the wake of the scandal.
He said: “We are faced with an unsatisfactory situation. We are subject to universal criticism from governments, sponsors, media and the wider world.
“A coronation without an opponent provides a flawed mandate.”
Blatter yesterday admitted mistakes had been made. Among a series of reforms he announced a new system of choosing World Cup hosts, with all 208 Fifa nations voting instead of the 24-man executive committee.
Last night Mr Cameron’s official spokesman said: “We believe that Fifa should have suspended the presidential election until the investigations which are under way have been completed.
“The most important thing is that the public have confidence in Fifa and, in order for that to happen, we need Fifa to reform.”
Sports minister Hugh Robertson said: “I am disappointed that the election happened but now the focus must be on where Fifa goes from here. It’s crucial that Sepp Blatter delivers on reform that has been promised.
“The organisation’s reputation is at an all-time low and it must become much more transparent for the good of the game. Blatter says the ‘football family’ will get Fifa’s house in order and I hope the FA will play a key part.”

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