MONACO: World football federation FIFA, in all its 110 years, has had only eight presidents, seven of them European writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The first was Robert Guerin (France) followed by Daniel Woolfall (England), Jules Rimet (France), Rodolfe Seeldrayers (Belgium), Arthur Drewry then Sir Stanley Rous (both England). Brazilian Joao Havelange ousted Rous in 1974 and reigned for 24 years before retiring and being succeeded in 1998 by Sepp Blatter.
Blatter was a marketing manager for Swiss timing firm Longines before being hand-picked for a FIFA development role by influential Adidas powerbroker Horst Dassler in 1975. He became FIFA development director before taking over as general secretary and then chief executive.
Attempts to oust sitting presidents in modern times have ended in dismal failure. Italian Antonio Matarrese was run out of sight by Havelange in 1994 and Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou was roundly defeated by Blatter in 2002. Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam ran against Blatter in 2011 but was barred from contesting the election after being suspended in a cash-for-votes scandal.
In Sao Paulo in June, on the eve of FIFA Congress, the corridors of UEFA power buzzed with the idea that another senior European figure should run against Blatter next year as a token of dissatisfaction. Holland’s Michael Van Praag and Germany’s Wolfgang Niersbach were names floated. Van Praag was non-commital while Niersbach vehemently denied wanting to be a pawn in a game of gesture politics.
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