LONDON/ZURICH: Sepp Blatter has insisted that he really will stand down as president of FIFA when his current term of office in 2015 but he does know whether Michel Platini really wants to succeed him.
This was one of the issues Blatter tackled in a halfhour interview broadcast on Sky Sports News.
In the exchange Blatter talked of his life-long passion for football, Brazil’s bid to make up for lost time in 2014 World Cup preparations and the need for a decision – soon after those finals – on whether the 2022 World Cup in Qatar should be played in summer or winter.
What is the secret of your survival success?
It is my belief and my faith in football. I’ve always been a footballer since I was able to kick a ball . . . Football had this fascination [for me] from the very beginning and when I had the opportunity to change from the media and economy to come to football at the end of 1974 I jumped in. Since February 1975 I have been in my dream of life to be in football and [that’s] now 38 years dedicating my life to football and I am not yet finished – I have to go at least until 2015.
Will you definitely stand down then?
Yes, I have said that at the very beginning of this mandate. I will be 79 and will have served 40 years in FIFA and I would like then to give FIFA to my successor as an institution that is recognised worldwide as giving emotions and passions and hope to this perturbed world where we can play an active social part.
Could Michel Platini be your successor?
This could be a good possibility because we have started togther in our activities since 1998; he was the man who was at my side [when I was first elected president]. I am not so sure he is willing to go into the position of FIFA president; he has not declared officially but he could, would, should be a good successor
Have you talked to him about it?
Yes the last time was we played football here on our pitch in Zurich between FIFA and UEFA and he was not so sure he wanted to become president; maybe president but not in the same way [as me]. I am an executive president and maybe he would be another sort of president. He has not declared his ambitions or how he sees FIFA in the future.
How are the World Cup preparations for Brazil?
In Brazil they have had some problems in keeping to the road map but now they are going up exactly where they should be. It’s not so easy but they do it and now they have the opportunity, with the Confederations Cup, to present the stadia and especially how the logistics will work. But it’s not the first World Cup where we have had to do something at the last minute because in all my working in FIFA I have seen the same situations in all the World Cups.
Will 2022 in Qatar be in winter or in summer?
That’s the million-dollar question. We have had, in FIFA, the principle that all bidders that the World Cup in 2022 shall be held in June/July so for us, for the time being, there is no change from this date. In FIFA we have still some time but after the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 the decision must be taken when  will be played but for the time being we play in June/July.
Do you understand why so many people in Europe find it incredible that the World Cup will be in Qatar where there is no tradition of the game?
But I think they are not well informed. They have a league there. It’s not so very popular because the population is not very big but they have organised for FIFA in 1995 the Under-20 World Cup – in smaller stadia but they did it so they have the ability to organise it. It’s a small country but this was a decision taken by the FIFA executive committee. It was a surprising decision I agree and people are still asking why but it has been taken by a democratic vote by secret ballot.
Was that fair though – considering you have people such as Jack Warner, Mohamed Bin Hammam, Chuck Blazer on the committee; can we be confident it was fair and democratic?
I’m not going to enter into this discussion. We had the executive committee depleted by two members. We had only 22 voting members who had all the right to vote. I don’t know on which direction they voted – I’m inclided to think those names would be more for their region than for the others – but we don’t know who voted for whom.
You promised a clean-up. Can you give us a progress report?
We are an example in transparency though it has not been recognised everywhere. FIFA is the only sports organisation, NGO organisation, which is in the financial reporting standard so our finances are presented like big companies on the stock exchanges. We have exactly the same provisions and obligation to do so but there have been some problems when it comes to ethics and morals.
Did you find that personally disturbing?
Absolutely because also it put into question my probity, my independence but I was very happy that in one of these famous cases the high court in Switzerland has made a decision that the FIFA president was not personally involved in any matters where money was distrubuted and had no clue in these matters. But it affected me as a person, it affected my family, but it will not affect my energy, my heart and my soul to go through this process until the end.