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There's been a bomb scare at the hotel where the Fifa congress is happening

Fifa will vote later on whether to retain Sepp Blatter as president.
May 29th 2015, 1:27 PM 23,071 84

Updated at 1.30pm

FIFA CONGRESS RESUMED this afternoon after the all-clear was given following a bomb alert at the venue where the event is being held.

The governing body will vote later on whether or not to retain Sepp Blatter as president.

A Zurich police spokesperson confirmed a bomb alert had been received at the city’s Hallen Stadium.

Police and Fifa security searched the congress room – but the all-clear was soon given.

Switzerland FIFA Protest A protester wearing a mask depicting FIFA President Sepp Blatter stands in front of the building where the 65th FIFA congress takes place in Zurich. Source: Associated Press

Speaking earlier, the embattled Fifa boss was adamant that only he could clean up the world’s most popular sport, to the dismay of critics who want to issue a red card to his 17-year rule.

Speaking this morning in Zurich, he appealed for unity and “team spirit so we can move forward together”.

“Let us show to the world we can run our institution together… With these words I open the 65th congress of Fifa,” Blatter added.

The boss of football’s governing organisation has been brazening it out in recent days – after governments joined leading figures of the global game along with deep-pocketed sponsors in crying foul over Fifa’s corruption scandal.

British Prime Minister David Cameron backed calls for Blatter to resign yesterday, while French President Francois Hollande said sports groups selecting the hosts of major events must be “irreproachable”.

Meanwhile, speaking this morning, FAI boss John Delaney said Blatter had presided over a “farce” and said that if loved football, as he claimed to, he would go.

Commercial deals

The commercial fallout has also been growing – with South Korea’s Hyundai Motor, a major sponsor of Fifa, saying it was “extremely concerned” after this week’s arrests and start of criminal probes implicating the football body.

Credit card giant Visa has threatened to “reassess” its sponsorship if Fifa does not clean up its act.

Blatter, however, has survived scandal before – and looks set for a fifth term in today’s vote, backed by African and Asian allies, despite the criminal investigations underway in the United States and Switzerland.

The Week That Was in Latin America Photo Gallery Source: Associated Press

More bad news

Blatter opened Fifa’s annual congress yesterday by saying he could “not monitor everyone all of the time”, shrugging off blame after the dramatic arrests in Switzerland at the behest of US prosecutors.

“The next few months will not be easy for Fifa. I am sure more bad news will follow but it is necessary to begin to restore trust in our organisation,” the 79-year-old president said.

“It must ultimately fall to me to bear the responsibility for the reputation and well-being of our organisation, and to ultimately find a way to move forward and fix things,” Blatter added.

He called the scandals “unprecedented” and said the “actions of individuals bring shame and humiliation on football and demand action and change from us all”.

Blatter spoke hours after a showdown with European football chief Michel Platini, who professed himself “sickened” and “disgusted”, and called on him to quit for the good of the game.

Blatter only replied in a private conversation after. “He told me: ‘Michel, we know each other well, but it’s too late. I cannot leave today when the congress starts this afternoon’.”

Avaaz Stunt in Zurich Protesters from the global campaign movement Avaaz demand the resignation of Sepp Blatter over the FIFA corruption scandal and rights abuses of World Cup construction workers in Qatar. Source: Gian Vaitl

Conspiracy theories 

Seven top football officials were arrested and Swiss police raided Fifa headquarters Wednesday as part of an inquiry into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Those arrested in Zurich were among 14 people accused in a US federal indictment of taking more than $150 million in bribes.

Platini said a “very large majority” of the 53 voting European federations would back Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan, the Fifa vice president who is the only challenger to Blatter in the vote.

“We cannot continue with the crisis in Fifa,” Prince Ali said this week.

The US, Canadian and Australian federations said they would also vote for the Jordanian royal, but the support of the numerous football associations in Africa and Asia should see Blatter get back in.

Among his supporters, Asian sports officials questioned the timing of the arrests, saying it was suspicious that they came two days before Blatter was due to stand for a new term.

Blatter was not named in the US indictment, and Swiss authorities said there were no immediate plans to question him over the awarding of the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

‘Never accepted a bribe’ 

In a separate development this morning, Jack Warner, the former Fifa vice-president has accused the US of ‘sour grapes’ and insisted he never accepted a bribe.

Speaking to the BBC following his release on bail in his native Trinidad and Tobago, he said the claims against him were “ludicrous”.

FAI Reaction

Speaking to Morning Ireland from Zurich, FAI boss John Delaney said Blatter had “presided over a farce”.

“He has to go,” Delaney said,

“If Fifa’s credibility is to have any chance of being returned to what it was 20 years ago, Blatter has to go.”

If Blatter loved football like he says he does … He would do the honourable thing and step down.

The incumbent Fifa boss was still expected to win today’s election, Delaney observed – adding that he thought it was “the beginning of the end for him.”

© AFP 2015 with reporting by Daragh Brophy.

Read: How did it get to this? Here’s the events which led to this week’s Fifa arrests

Read: FIFA 16 will include women players for the first time, and some people are less than happy about it

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