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Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Friday, 13 May 2011 18:36 UK

Sepp Blatter warns of Fifa 'black hole'

Sepp Blatter
Blatter is bidding for a fourth presidential term at Fifa

Current president Sepp Blatter says Fifa will be plunged into "a black hole" if rival Mohamed Bin Hammam wins next month's leadership election.

Swiss Blatter is bidding for a fourth term at the helm, with Qatar football chief Bin Hammam standing in his way.

And with the days ticking down to the 1 June vote, Blatter said: "The ballot could lead to a seismic shift with irreversible damage.

"Quite simply, the survival of Fifa is at stake."

He added: "It is a question of whether the game's established world governing body will continue to exist after this date or whether it will disappear into a black hole.

"'Is it that dramatic?' you may ask. The answer is, theoretically, yes, it is."

Blatter is favourite to survive the challenge of Bin Hammam and has the support of European governing body Uefa's executive committee - a potentially decisive factor in the outcome of the vote for one of the most powerful positions in world sport.

And while confident he will retain his position, 75-year-old Blatter warned of what he believes the consequences are of a vote for Bin Hammam.

"What is actually at stake?" asked Blatter, who has been dealing with fresh claims this week about four Fifa executive committee members allegedly asking for favours in return for votes in last year's decision on hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

I will happily and unreservedly restate that I firmly believe Fifa, as a decision-making body and as an organisation, isn't corrupt

Mohamed Bin Hammam

"The Fifa presidential election is not about candidate A or candidate B, it is about whether there will be any candidates at all in future.

"I am confident that I will win the election with a clear two-thirds majority. South America, Central and North America, Europe, Oceania and a significant part of Africa and Asia will continue to support my ideas.

"Nevertheless, it is worthwhile outlining what the alternative would be, i.e. none at all.

"What applies for every carpenter also applies for us: the roof will only hold as long as the foundations are in place.

"If the ground beneath crumbles, the entire edifice will collapse. And that is precisely what is at stake on 1 June. All or nothing!"

Bin Hammam, meanwhile, this week insisted football's world governing body is not corrupt.

Earlier this week Lord Triesman, who ran England's failed 2018 World Cup bid, made allegations against several high-ranking Fifa officials.

But 62-year-old Bin Hammam said: "I will happily and unreservedly restate that I firmly believe Fifa, as a decision-making body and as an organisation, isn't corrupt."

However, Bin Hammam did say that Fifa needs a "new atmosphere" to dispel negative publicity surrounding the organisation.

"It is impossible to deny that its reputation has been sullied beyond compare," admitted Bin Hammam. "It's time for that to change."

Triesman levelled corruption allegations against a number of senior Fifa officials who were involved in the voting process for the next two World Cups.

We should be prepared to give concessions in order to achieve reform and be prepared to consider giving up the historic privileges

Damian Collins MP calls for the FA to demand Fifa reform

Bin Hammam said that under the leadership of Blatter, Fifa had been "choosing to run football how it sees fit, rather than doing so in a manner that is consistent with the governing body's proper procedures".

That had made it "hard to get the public to believe in the organisation".

He added: "There needs to be an opportunity for new ideas to take hold and for the organisation to take a new direction."

Damian Collins, the MP who revealed the latest World Cup bribery scandal, said the Football Association should offer to abandon its historic Fifa privileges in return for reform of the world governing body.

Collins used Parliamentary privilege on Tuesday to allege that Fifa executive members Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma had been paid $1.5m (£900,000) to vote for Qatar's successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup.

The FA and the governing bodies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are the only individual national associations on the International Football Association Board, the game's law-making body.

Each of the UK associations has a vote and Fifa has four votes.

This situation has long caused resentment among some figures in world football and Collins said the FA could take the lead on reform by offering to give them up.

Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said: "The FA should be at the vanguard of pushing for the reform of Fifa. We should be leading the call for change and should be prepared to ruffle a few feathers.

"We should be prepared to give concessions in order to achieve reform and be prepared to consider giving up the historic privileges."

Collins said the reforms should include the World Cup bidding process, that there should be strict rules governing contact between bidding nations and Fifa ExCo members, and that Fifa should consider restaging the 2022 vote if the allegations against Qatar are proved.

Bin Hammam, who did much to secure the 2022 World Cup for his country, has denied any bribes were paid.

"I can assure you nothing like this has happened from our side," he insisted.

"If someone wants to damage reputations like this then they have to provide the proof. You can't just accuse people just like that. It didn't happen."

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see also
FA to send Fifa bid bribery files
11 May 11 |  Football
Hayatou denies bribery claims
11 May 11 |  African
Qatar 'bribed' Hayatou & Anouma
11 May 11 |  African
Ex-FA boss makes Fifa bribe claim
10 May 11 |  Football
FA will send evidence to Fifa - Horne
10 May 11 |  Football
Fifa names in the frame
10 May 11 |  Football
Mayor cancels Fifa's hotel stay
06 Dec 10 |  London
Anson floats Fifa reform proposal
04 Dec 10 |  Football
FA chief to quit in Fifa protest
04 Dec 10 |  Football
Redknapp baffled by Fifa decision
03 Dec 10 |  Football
England 2018 bid 'sunk by media'
03 Dec 10 |  Football
The World Cup in their hands
02 Dec 10 |  Football
England bid boss fumes at voting
02 Dec 10 |  Football
Russia & Qatar to host World Cups
02 Dec 10 |  Football
England miss out in 2018 Cup vote
02 Dec 10 |  Football
Triesman quits FA & 2018 Cup jobs
16 May 10 |  Football
FA concern over '39th game'
21 Feb 08 |  Football

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