Date: 31 Mar 2015, Science, Technology and Culture
Question setter: Mettletest Panel


Will Sepp Blatter win re-election to the FIFA presidency in the first ballot on 29th May 2015?


Answer: Yes
Confidence level: 90%
Mean confidence level (all requests): 46.20%

Since FIFA learnt how to profit from its branding, the organisation has built up considerable wealth, with cash reserves now standing at over $1.4bn. Sepp Blatter's effective control of these funds gives him an enormous power of patronage and has allowed him to fend off contenders to the presidency. He has bought the favour of myriad voting countries, with the judicious allocation of moneys for their local football. Anyone discovered directing a vote elsewhere risks losing access to his handouts or, worse, the chance of hosting the world cup. Blatter already has endorsements from confederation heads in Africa, Oceania and Asia. His support is also sustained by turning a blind eye to any alleged corruption, with the Russian and Qatar World Cups widely assumed to have been bought.
In the last two elections, Blatter has managed to stand unopposed, having managed to discredit his rivals and have their candidacy thrown out. This time there are three other contenders though there are weeks to go. They are proposing a larger distribution of the FIFA funds and more teams in the Cup, in an effort to garner votes. Few think they'll make an impression on the day and the bookies certainly put the odds strongly on Blatter. He needs 75% of the first round vote and he'll likely get it

Outcome: Yes
Score: 90
Mean score (all respondents): 46.20

Expert opinion:

Answer: Yes

Selected Expert Answer from Derek Wyatt:
There is no more corrupt a sporting organisation in the world than FIFA. Based in the canton of Zurich in Switzerland, Sepp Blatter, its President, has spent a lifetime and more working as an insider. He knows where all the bodies are buried. Many of FIFA's representatives believe him to be the saviour of the game. He has been responsible for overseeing billions of dollars raised through sponsorship and other deals which make their way through the members own regional football organisations where the words transparent and audit are largely unknown. To vote for anyone else - notwithstanding the criticism of European countries especially the UK - would see an end to the private jets, the seven star hotels, the tickets and chauffeur driven cars. FIFA may be a stain on the game but it will not stop Sepp Blatter from being re-elected. Shame.

Answer: Yes

Selected Expert Answer from Peter Bennett-Jones:
There are four candidates standing to be elected FIFA President on 29 May. Incumbent Sepp Blatter is 16:1 on with the bookies to retain the post. To do so at the secret First Ballot he requires 2/3 of the votes from eligible FIFA member nations.
The bookies rarely get it wrong and it is inconceivable that Blatter will not prevail and very probably that he will do so on the First Ballot. The most viable rival candidate does not even have the support of his own Asian base.
Blatter is a consummate political operator, running the Beautiful Game with a rod of iron, using lightly audited development monies to attract the support of Federations in Africa, Asia, Oceana and Latin America over the last 16 years. His conduct of the World Cup bids for 2018 and 2022, which were in all likelihood corrupt, illustrates the grip he has over FIFA. The UK's opposition to his method of operation was derided and the deep reservations about the ethical conduct and bribery are not shared by the majority of members. They argue that Blatter has helped spread the game and its development globally , successfully delivering tournaments in Asia, Europe, South Africa and Brazil and has not yet fulfilled his mission.
Sadly for the UK, President Blatter, as he insists on being addressed, will prevail again.

Outcome: Yes

Comment on outcome from Derek Wyatt:
Sepp Blatter's votes came from countries who are the highest on Transparency International's Corruption Index - the African, Mid East & Far East - so we should not have been surprised they courted him. These countries receive outrageous sums of FIFA's money but where are their playing fields and coaches?

The real loser in this is Zurich and its canton. Zurich has to be the most corrupt city in the world. It banked Abacha and Marcos's $trillions, kept hidden Nazi Gold and delights in offering sporting organisations freedom of their city so they are above the law. The Swiss should hang their collective heads in shame.