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Fifa still has questions to answer

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James Pearce | 10:22 UK time, Saturday, 30 October 2010

I blogged a few days ago about how important this week was going to be for Fifa. Well now we're at the end of it and the truth is, very little happened.

So the remaining question: "Has Sepp Blatter missed his chance to restore credibility to the World Cup voting process, or is there still time?" still needs to be answered.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter did do one thing at his news conference on Friday that I've never seen him do before. He admitted that he'd made a mistake.

To regular Fifa watchers that was as unexpected as it would have been if he'd stood up and announced that he'd found Lord Lucan.

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The error that he was talking about was his original decision a few years back to agree that the destinations of the 2018 and 2022 World
Cups
should be decided on the same day.

In hindsight he knows that was wrong. It's led to allegations of collusion and vote trading between the bidders.

Admitting a mistake wouldn't have been easy for a man who usually likes people to believe that he can do little wrong.

There are, though, always two challenges facing somebody who's done something wrong. The first is to own up to it. The second is to do something about it and on that Blatter failed completely.

He said that it was too late to change the process. Whatever the problems with the original decision, he claimed that the only option now was to go ahead with both votes on 2 December.

To be fair to him, he was under a great deal of pressure from the 2022 bidders to do exactly that, as they have budgets and contracts that come to an end on that date.

It is, though, a big gamble by Blatter. He knows how damaging the recent allegations have been for Fifa.

By splitting the two votes he could, at least, have lessened the allegations of collusion. By doing nothing he risks being accused of turning a blind eye to the problems.

There is still one date in the Fifa diary that could change the landscape of the World Cup contest.

On 17 November Fifa's ethics committee will give its verdict on the allegations that have led to the provisional suspension of two members of the executive committee, Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Tahitian Reynald Temarii, after allegations printed in the Sunday Times.

Blatter pointed to this over and over again during his news conference. Even though he decided that he could change nothing this past week, there is still a body with the power to take tough decisions.

Fifa's credibility remains on the line. All those inside and outside the organisation are well aware of that. At the moment there's little faith in the integrity of the voting process.
My personal view is the greatest problem is the size of the electorate.

When it's only 24 it means that each individual voter has far too much influence.
That's not going to change for this time, but is something that's likely to be looked at in years to come.
The International Olympic Committee, for example, has about 115 voters, and even that organisation has had more than its fair share of difficulties.

In the meantime, in many ways Sepp Blatter has passed the buck to the ethics committee.

If the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes are to be accepted as fair by football lovers around the globe, then much is going to have to happen between now and the beginning of December.

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