Football: Australia disappointed but promises to work with Blatter

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Australia's soccer chief Frank Lowy has promised to work with Sepp Blatter to try to repair Fifa's tattered reputation despite his disappointment at the re-election of the Swiss as president of the game's world governing body.

Australia was the only country to publicly break with the 47-nation Asian Football Confederation's backing of Blatter, who won a fifth term in Zurich on Friday in an election overshadowed by allegations of rampant corruption in world soccer.

Football Federation Australia (FFA), still furious that their bid for the 2022 World Cup won just one vote as Qatar was controversially awarded the tournament, had announced they would back Blatter's Jordanian opponent, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein.

"It is a democracy and Mr Blatter was duly elected," Lowy, the billionaire owner of the Westfield shopping centre empire, said in a statement.

"He was very clear in acknowledging that Fifa faced a real challenge to restore its standing and Australia will play its role along with other associations to try to achieve this.

"The vote secured by Prince Ali was not insignificant and reflects a belief within Fifa and the world football community that governance and other reforms need to be implemented as soon as possible."

Australia, which joined the AFC in 2006, was hailed by some for its move in breaking with Asia but might now face a backlash from a leadership which was among Blatter's staunchest allies.

Kuwaiti powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al Fahad al Sabah, the head of the Olympic Council of Asia, recently joined Fifa's executive committee along with his Bahraini protege, AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa, a Fifa vice president.

There are already rumblings in West Asia that Australia's switch to the Asian confederation has effectively reduced the region's allocation of World Cup berths by one because of the strength of the Socceroos.

Australia's stand against Blatter would have caused disquiet at AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur and Lowy perhaps wisely chose to dampen expectations when asked if he would consider backing European calls for a World Cup boycott.

"Listen, we are 24 million people out of seven billion people in the world," the FFA chairman told Fox TV in Switzerland. "What? Do you think we can make a difference to what happens in the world? It's just over-expectation of us."