England’s Football Association's board has decided to abstain in the vote for the presidency of Fifa. Sepp Blatter, the current head of football's world governing body, is being challenged by Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation.
But the FA has chosen not to vote after allegations of corruption against Fifa in recent months. The presidency vote will take place on 1 June.
In a statement the FA said: 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.”
Two Fifa executive committee (ExCo) members were suspended from voting in the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups following allegations they had offered to sell their votes. More corruption claims concerning a further six ExCo members were made last week by former FA chairman Lord Triesman and the Sunday Times.
While England won a meagre two votes in its bid to host the 2018 World Cup, Qatar was successful in its bid to stage the 2022 tournament but its team has been accused of paying bribes to win votes.
Fifa has launched an investigation into the allegations but they have cast a shadow over both Blatter, 75, and Bin Hammam, 62. The latter was an influential figure in securing the 2022 World Cup for his country.
Before the FA took its decision to abstain, Blatter had stated: I think it is a little bit strange when the number one association in the world, i.e. the FA, have two candidates in front of them and cannot make a decision which one to support.
Blatter, who is aiming for a fourth term as Fifa president, also stated that Fifa is to interview a whistleblower concerning the allegations made about the Qatar bid.
We have organised and the newspaper has agreed we will bring this whistleblower to Zurich and then we will have a discussion, an investigation, said Blatter.
Asked if the decision to award the 2022 World Cup could be reversed if the bribery claims were found to be true, he answered: This is an idea circulating already around the world which is alarming. Don't ask me yes or no; let us go step by step.
Blatter added: We must know if the allegations are true or not true or unproven. If they are not true, then this case is over.
Then we will see which instrument will work. It is of paramount importance that we have this situation clarified on the 27th [May].
”The [Fifa] ethics committee is already alerted and alarmed - they are not just lying on the beach - and the members will come for the congress and can convene at very short notice”.