New Zealand Football (NZF) voted against the 79-year-old’s bid for a fifth successive term as FIFA president last week in Zurich, reversing their position after the world governing body became embroiled in another corruption scandal.
A total of 14 FIFA officials and corporate executives have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with running a criminal enterprise that involved more than $150 million in bribes.
NZF were also disappointed the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the smallest in FIFA with 11 South Pacific nations, had not been given direct entry to the next two World Cup tournaments, with the Oceania qualifier still having to undergo a playoff to reach the finals.
Both NZF and the OFC had high expectations Blatter would support direct entry, but FIFA’s executive committee decided the current qualification spots would remain the same.
“We are very disappointed at the decision,” NZF Chief Executive Andy Martin said in a strongly worded statement on Tuesday.
“I know OFC President David Chung will have similar feelings after all the hard work he has done on behalf of the entire Oceania region towards making direct entry to the World Cup a reality.
“We will now work hard with Oceania Football and FIFA as we continue to build closer ties with Asia while ensuring the critical change required to repair FIFA’s tarnished reputation is progressed at pace.
“We now look forward to the opportunity to meet with President Blatter on his intended visit to New Zealand later this month to discuss his plans and understand how we can play a role in that process.”
The under-20 World Cup runs in New Zealand until June 20, with Blatter expected to arrive in the country in time for the final in Auckland.
Martin had earlier told Radio New Zealand that FIFA had lost credibility with the grass roots of global football and that he expected Blatter to work to overhaul the culture of the organisation.
“The grass roots is the most important part of football and these people despise the leadership of FIFA and that has to change,” Martin said.
“You need to have integrity in the leadership of an organisation, you can’t have these systemic corruption allegations continually hitting the brand of football.”
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)