The English Football Association (FA) has announced it will abstain from the FIFA presidential vote on June 1, after chairman David Bernstein had hinted at the decision last week.
The decision by the FA is a clear snub to incumbent chief Sepp Blatter, whom the body blame as a major factor in England’s World Cup 2018 bid, but also to his Qatari challenger, Mohamed Bin Hammam.
Many felt that the FA would opt for change in voting for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president, but after last week’s allegations made against Qatar’s successful bid for the 2022 World Cup, the association has abstained from voting.
FA chairman Bernstein confirmed: “The FA board has today [Thursday] agreed to abstain in the vote of the presidency of FIFA. There are a well-reported range of issues both recent and current which, in the view of the FA board, make it difficult to support either candidate.
“The FA values its relationships with its international partners very highly. We are determined to play an active and influential role through our representation within both UEFA and FIFA. We will continue to work hard to bring about any changes we think would benefit all of international football.”
The news came as a shock to current incumbent Blatter, who claimed that abstaining would suit no one – least of all the reputation of the FA itself, stating: “I think it is a little bit strange when the number one association in the world, in other words the FA, has two candidates in front of them and cannot make a decision which one to support.
“Of course you can abstain but, as I explained to Mr Bernstein when I saw him, the part the FA has played in the development of football, specifically in the development of football and the laws of the game.
“The Congress gave the four British associations special privileges in 1948. Mr Bernstein asked me when I saw him what FIFA could do for England. I put it the other way – what can England do for FIFA?”
The Swiss added that the FA’s decision ahead of the upcoming election would send the wrong message, citing “the importance of the FA in world football.”
He added: “They (England) have a lot of rights but it’s also a responsibility. I think Mr Bernstein got the message, he knew exactly what I said. But I don’t know if the whole board is on the same track.”
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