Following a series of indictments of top regional football officials in several confederations including the North, Central American and Caribbean Confederation known as CONCACAF, members of the 65th General Congress of the International Federation of Football Associations, re-elected president Joseph “Sepp” Blatter to a fifth term on Friday. He won the vote by 133 to 73 after rival Prince Ali bin Hussein of Jordan, a vice president and regional leader, opted not to go to a second round. Belize is one of the 133 countries that voted for Blatter, along with a majority of African and Asian countries. Today returning president of the Football Federation of Belize (FFB), Ruperto Vicente, explained that Blatter’s commitment to developing football in developing countries helped him secure victory.
“I voted for Joseph Blatter. Reason being is that he was up for development and Belize needs as much development as possible. We also put the challenge that it is now his responsibility to now clean up the situation in FIFA. I must declare here that FIFA is a big organization as well as CONCACAF. There is nothing wrong with those organizations. What is wrong are the individuals who have their own agendas and interest and create the difficulties for the organization.”
According to Vicente it is now up to Blatter to do as he promised and clean up FIFA. However, as the investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice continues, might Belizeans’ names be called? Vicente says there is one instance that might be questioned.
“Not at all because there is no reason to. I was not involved there and in no way I will ever be involved with it nor the Football Federation of Belize will ever be involved in those situations.
“Four of the names that are up for indictment come from CONCACAF. That is our regional organization. Wouldn’t it be such a far stretch to say that Belize football is somewhat tainted because of the situation that we have , knowingly or unknowingly participated in corrupt activities within FIFA?”
“Yes those individuals are from CONCACAF and as I have said before there is nothing wrong with CONCACAF. CONCACAF is better off today than it was a few years ago. CONCACAF has come a long way. What is wrong with CONCACAF are the individuals who have their own interest. Yes, Belize football may be tainted and we are not immune from the situation because we can also be investigated. We have signed contracts with Traffic Sports and Traffic Sports is one of the organizations that is in the middle of the whole situation. Our contract was signed up to 2018 so we may also be called to questions. When that time comes, we will have to respond accordingly. Remember that those contracts were signed by previous administrations, we have not signed any contract with Traffic Sports.”
Vicente kept his comments limited about the indictments of such regional officials as CONCACAF President Jeffrey Webb of the Cayman Islands and Austin “Jack” Warner of Trinidad and Tobago, but he offered assurances that his hands and those of the Federation are not dirty.
“Remember that it is CONCACAF officials that are being under investigations at this point. FIFA, the Swiss authorities have just started their proem into activities in FIFA so I cannot comment on those activities because I do not have the facts on those.”
“Sir we have to ask you for a categorical response on whether or not your administration is indeed involved in any activities with CONCACAF that may be coming under question at some point in your tenure?”
“Well I can say this confidently that we are not participating in any illegal activities or any of those activities that the officials of CONCACAF are being indicted for. We are not into that and I can say that I cannot see myself participating in those kinds of activities or even having our federation participating in that. Remember that I am not representing myself. I represent this nation and I will not put my country in such a situation.”
Blatter will serve a four-year term and is now the third-longest serving president of FIFA. His term expires in 2019.