Neil Humphreys: Blatter's win casts shadow over Asia
Endorsing a presidency that has overseen bribes and kickbacks casts a shadow over the continent
Greed won. Transparency lost. Fifa's associations closed their consciences and opened their wallets.
Sepp Blatter prevailed. He always does. He's been winning the hearts and bank accounts of voters, particularly in Asia and Africa, since before Prince Ali Al Hussein was born.
In his ludicrous victory speech on Friday, Blatter suggested he was the reform candidate, ready to snip the roots of corruption from the previous administration.
That's his previous administration - his institutionalised system of fawning disciples and grateful backhanders.
So Blatter has promised to investigate Blatter. He failed so miserably in the four previous terms but, in his fifth term, at the age of 79, he's going to be a Swiss Elliot Ness, a lot of talk and a badge.
It's nonsense. It's repugnant. It's utterly preposterous and entirely predictable.
In hindsight, we were duped by the dominance of the outraged western media. Everyone from Gary Lineker to British Prime Minister David Cameron insisted that the supreme leader had to go.
But we should've looked closer to home, towards the Asian Football Confederation and its respective associations, and examined their motives.
The arrest of 14 executives, charged with money laundering and racketeering, was not really their overriding concern.
If anything, the orchestrated raids on Fifa's Zurich headquarters and Uefa's subsequent outrage underlined long-standing concerns.
The perception remains that Europe and other western powerhouses are both the world game's policemen and the arbiters of justice, determined to retain their stranglehold on the sport.
Like a tilted pinball machine, the vast revenues, major club competitions and the best global talent all roll towards Europe.
If it were not for one balding 79-year-old man, standing alone in his flapping cape, saving the developing nations, handing them cash for pitches and giving them World Cups in both Asia and Africa, then those continents would surely be swept aside by the imperialistic minority in Europe.
And therein lies Blatter's political genius.
After his 133 to 73 vote victory, he declared himself the "president of everybody".
But he isn't and never has been. Nor does he need to be. He just needs to be the president of Asia and Africa.
Those continents do not boast the media megaphones of Europe, but they have more votes in the Fifa Congress. That's all that matters.
Amaju Pinnick, the president of the Nigerian Football Federation, said it best: "Blatter feels Africa, he sees Africa and he has imparted so much - a lot of developmental programmes."
With impeccable timing, the president of the Confederation of African Football Issa Hayatou, a Blatter loyalist, turned up as chairman of the finance committee and promised US$1 million ($1.35m) to every member association. That's all the developing nations wanted to hear.
Forget all that western rhetoric about transparency from the western-educated Jordanian Prince, show them the money.
Of course, there is that unpalatable fact that Fifa spends as much on staff and expenses - including an extraordinary US$10m salary for Blatter - as it does on football development globally but, for his devoted followers, a few crumbs are always better than an empty plate.
Check Fifa's website and click its "development globe", an online tool that allows you to click on every country and see all the Fifa projects carried out by Blatter.
There are photos of him opening training facilities and interacting with children from impoverished villages. It's a wonder he's not wearing white robes.
Behind the scenes, he remains a Machiavellian master. Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, a major powerbroker, was recently voted onto the Fifa executive committee and rallied Asian support for Blatter.
The Fifa president manipulates the distrust of Uefa's arrogance and the bullying British media. He taps into post-colonial hang-ups to sustain support in developing nations, even painting former ally Michel Platini as a Uefa president only interested in poaching the best players and sponsorship deals for Europe's top leagues.
Despite being ensconced in Fifa's fortress in Switzerland, Blatter is portrayed as the man who moved the world game away from its Eurocentrism.
Is the compliment justified? It doesn't matter. It helped him win a fifth term.
Uefa can threaten boycotts and sponsors may promise to pull the plug, but we should be asking questions closer to home.
As a continent, why did our football associations endorse a presidency that has overseen two generations of bribes and kickbacks?
After the arrest of nine Fifa officials and four executives of sports management companies on suspicion of receiving bribes totalling US$100m, why did we prop up the status quo?
And why did we endorse an organisation that has failed to properly investigate the fraud allegations surrounding Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022?
It's easy to point fingers at Blatter's band of wealthy men, but Asia's football associations have, for the most part, buried heads in the sand to keep their noses at the trough.
Never mind the stench emanating from Fifa. What does Blatter's farcical election victory say about the men running Asian football?
- Neil Humphreys' new Singapore book - Saving a Sexier Island - is out now.
ASIA APPROVES, AUSTRALIA APPALLED
The AFC has always supported the Fifa president and we are happy to continue working with him and Fifa to further develop Asian and world football into the future. — AFC chief Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa (above)
Asia football chief Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa congratulated Fifa president Sepp Blatter on his re-election for a fifth term - a victory the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) played a major role in delivering.
The AFC leadership's staunch support for Blatter was reiterated on the eve of the contest by Al Khalifa's patron, Olympic Council of Asia chief Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, despite being the only other candidate from Jordan.
With Australia the only public dissenters in the Asian bloc, Blatter duly romped to victory over Prince Ali Al Hussein despite the corruption allegations which have again engulfed football's world governing body this week.
"On behalf of myself, the AFC and the whole Asian football family, I would like to congratulate Joseph S. Blatter on his re-election as Fifa president," Bahraini Al Khalifa said in a statement yesterday.
"The AFC has always supported the Fifa president and we are happy to continue working with him and Fifa to further develop Asian and world football into the future."
Blatter and his mentor and predecessor as president, the now disgraced Brazilian Joao Havelange, have ruled Fifa for four decades on the back of a powerbase they built by expanding membership away from the game's traditional heartlands.
Havelange and Blatter have also successfully exploited resentment, particularly in Africa and Asia, at the perceived arrogance of the countries where the game first flourished in Europe and South America.
Australia, still fuming that its bid for the 2022 World Cup won just one vote as Qatar was controversially awarded the tournament, yesterday issued its own statement expressing its disappointment at Blatter's re-election.
"It is a democracy and Mr Blatter was duly elected," Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy said.
"The vote secured by Prince Ali was not insignificant and reflects a belief within Fifa and the world football community that governance and other reforms need to be implemented as soon as possible." - Reuters.