Bernstein Hints at FA Abstention from FIFA Presidential Vote

May 13, 2011

Football Association chairman David Bernstein has hinted that England could take the remarkable step of abstaining when the FIFA Presidential election takes place on June 1.

The FA are to decide whether to back Sepp Blatter or Mohamed Bin Hammam at a Board meeting on May 19 but Bernstein claimed the third option of not voting at all was still a viable decision.

A number of senior FA figures still resent the way England only received two votes for their failed 2018 World Cup bid, blaming current incumbent Blatter for influencing his colleagues on the executive committee.

Bernstein, when asked as to whether a vote for Blatter was wise, confirmed, “I don’t think it would go down very well” with the public.

Although Blatter’s credibility has been hit hard by the recent spate of corruption allegations made by former England bid leader Lord Triesman involving four Executive Committee members, Bin Hammam’s candidacy has also been tarnished by claims separate to Triesman’s, which allege that FIFA members Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma were paid US$1.5m to vote for Qatar 2022. 

“There are two candidates and three possible decisions, the other being that we will abstain,” said Bernstein. 

“We will look at the fact that this will be Mr Blatter’s last period. We will look at recent events. I don’t think an abstention would be pointless. 

“It could end up being a very credible choice, but it depends on what happens over the next week and my colleagues’ views on this.”

Bernstein added his voice to the growing clamour for an Olympic-style voting system to replace an elite few wielding so much power.

“Yes I do think it is too centralised,” he said. 

“I think it would be desirable for a voting system based on a national vote…I think  that would be a move towards greater democracy, absolutely.

“FIFA is a very closed organisation and a lot goes on behind closed doors.”