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NZF mulling FIFA presidential vote

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/05/2015
Fifa president Sepp Blatter on 20 March 2015 © AFP Fifa president Sepp Blatter on 20 March 2015

New Zealand's vote in the FIFA presidential elections will be about the integrity of world soccer's governing body, chief executive Andy Martin says.

New Zealand has had a good run during the 17-year reign of incumbent Sepp Blatter, including getting three tournaments - the latest the men's Under-20 World Cup beginning on Saturday - during that period.

"We've done very well under the current regime in FIFA, but that doesn't mean to say things can't change," Martin said.

"It would be wrong of us if we weren't mindful of the continuing horrific events over the last 24 hours here in Zurich and the damage that it has done to football, which is our No.1 priority."

Amid a corruption scandal engulfing FIFA, the 79-year-old Blatter is facing one challenger in Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-Hussein in the election on Saturday (NZT).

New Zealand Football is expected to make known later on Friday how it will vote.

Martin, part of a two-man New Zealand delegation in Zurich, said a recommendation would be presented to the NZF board before the decision was announced.

New Zealand has previously supported Blatter remaining in the job.

Martin said it was clear that the developments this week were "very serious" and "extremely damaging to football".

"We will continue to play our role in upholding the integrity of FIFA," he said.

Those developments included the arrest of seven high-ranking FIFA officials, including the organising committee chairman for the U20 World Cup.

Martin said the mood in Zurich was "quite bizarre", and there was frustration and hurt that football had been damaged.

He admitted that he "watched with horror and frustration" the opening press conference for the U20 World Cup in Auckland on Thursday, when none of the media questions was about football.

But he was confident that the events in Zurich would have no impact on the tournament.

Martin was also "very comfortable" that the process under which New Zealand was awarded the 24-nation event was totally above board.

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