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Monday, June 8, 1998 Published at 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK

Sport: Football

Blatter crowned Fifa president

Sepp Blatter celebrates his victory

Sepp Blatter has become the new president of football's international governing body, Fifa in a move which raises England's hopes of staging the 2006 World Cup finals.

Sepp Blatter's victory address from BBC Radio 5 Live
After the first round of voting failed to produce a winner Blatter's rival, Sweden's Lennart Johannson, conceded victory.

The 191 nations eligible to vote took more than three hours to decide who would replace the outgoing president Joao Havelange. It was expected to be a close decision and many favoured Johannson.

Voting was delayed whilst the 51st Fifa Congress decided which method of voting to use. Each member cast their vote in private, on a one country-one vote basis, and then placed their slip into a ballot box in public.

Neither candidate claimed the required two-thirds majority (128 votes) in the first round with Blatter, Fifa's Secretary-General, winning 111 votes to Johansson's 80. The election should have gone to a second round, but Johansson withdrew.

Good news for England

England 2006 Campaign Director Alec McGiven: "It's a great boost for English football"
Blatter's appointment is good news for the English Football Association, who switched allegiances from Johansson last week and vowed to vote for Blatter.

It hopes the new president will favour England's bid for the 2006 World Cup finals ahead of Germany. Johansson, the current Uefa President, is known to support Germany's bid.

The 62-year-old Swiss-German said before the election that he would award the finals to South Africa, but the English FA backed Blatter in the hope that he will offer the tournament to England if South Africa is not ready in time.

The Director of the English FA's 2006 campaign, Alec McGiven, said: "It is a great boost for English football. We are often accused at the FA of being a bit weak on issues and not taking a lead.

"I think many, many people around world football have admired us over the weekend for coming out and saying what we believe in, taking a risk."

Blatter, FIFA's top administrator for 17 years, had the support of Havelange, who retired after 24 years in the job. The new president is seen as a Havelange clone who is keen to keep a tight hand on the reins of power, while Johansson had portrayed himself as a democrat, ready to empower the confederations.

Johansson started his campaign more than two years ago, whilst Blatter began campaigning just four months ago.

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