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India is Sepp Blatter's staunch ally

Author: Marcus Mergulhao, TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 30, 2015
URL:   http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/football/top-stories/India-is-Sepp-Blatters-staunch-ally/articleshow/47478031.cms

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has always been a staunch ally of Sepp Blatter and has voted for him at every election since he first assumed power in 1998. Successive AIFF presidents, or even those who were nominated to vote at the FIFA Congress, have not even blinked once before carrying the paper vote and dropping it into the ballot box.

 Former AIFF president Priyaranjan Dasmunsi started the trend in 1998 when he voted for Blatter, up against former UEFA president and contender Lennart Johansson in a hotly-contested election. There were claims that "brown envelopes" were handed over to delegates at the FIFA Congress in Paris but even before that Blatter had well and truly won over India.

 Four years later when Blatter was challenged for the presidency in 2002 by Issa Hayatou of Cameroon, the president of the African confederation (CAF), the AIFF made its support known when Dasmunsi spoke in favour of Blatter at the Congress in Seoul.

Once Dasmunsi was done talking, others took the mike and it included Saadi Gaddafi, head of the Libyan Football Federation.

 In 2007 - when Blatter visited India for the first time - he was reelected unchallenged in Zurich while in 2011, Blatter was the sole candidate after Mohamed Bin Hammam withdrew his candidature.

 "Blatter has always had India's vote in his pocket. In fact, he has taken greater care of footballing minnows like India who have just as much of a say as the established football nations," said one official.

 Last month, when AIFF president Praful Patel was elected vice-president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in Bahrain, he had a quiet word with Blatter on the sidelines and invited him to India for the AFC Annual Awards in November. Blatter agreed. Patel was elected unopposed as AFC vice-president, thanks in good measure to president Shaikh Salman, a close ally of Blatter.

FIFA takes care of member associations across the globe. Each member association has just one vote but three officials are entitled to travel to the FIFA Congress in exotic locations on business class tickets and $300 daily allowance (approx Rs 19,500).
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