Over the past few months, the Dutch daily newspaper De Volkskrant interviewed dozens of football officials from all over the world. Some of them are not convinced that the voting in Zürich today will be anonymous.
This distrust can have major consequences for the outcome of the election. The confederations of Africa and Asia, together representing 100 votes, have called upon their representatives in FIFA to vote for incumbent president Blatter. Whoever wins the vote of 105 of the 209 member states wins the election.
Dissidents ignoring the advice on how to vote may find themselves in trouble. Officials don't want to go on record because this may jeopardize their position, but one official from Central Africa was very clear: 'In Africa everyone knows who voted for whom within days.' He declined to explain the basis for this statement. 'I just know that that's how it is. And what do you think will happen if I ignore the advice on how to vote?'
The distrust regarding the FIFA elections is not limited to Africa. Asian and North and Middle American officials also say that they have very little confidence that the voting will be secret, as promised. 'We know from past experience that there is no such thing as a secret within the world football association,' says one official.
FIFA states that the confidentiality of voting in Zurich's Hallen Stadium 'is 100 percent guaranteed'. Each representative makes a mark on a ballet paper to indicate whether he wants Blatter or Prince Ali as FIFA leader for the next four years and deposits his vote at the front of the venue. The votes are then counted and the ballot papers are sealed. In a hundred days' time, the ballots will be destroyed.