ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has put himself at risk of being accused of flouting election regulations with an open letter to ‘friends of football’ writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
In the missive, issued as a FIFA-headed e-letter, Blatter does not refer specifically to his bid to win re-election for a fifth term at congress in Zurich on May 29.
However the tone of the text and use of the FIFA logo is likely to be read by challengers Prince Ali of Jordan, Dutchman Michael Van Praag and Portugal’s Luis Figo as a possible breach of rules drawn up last year by audit chairman Domenico Scala and the now-departed ethics chief Michael Garcia.
In a five-paragraph letter Blatter states that he had attended five of the congresses of the six regional confederations this year and reported how he was struck by the “spirit of solidarity that drives you all on.”
He quotes how impressed he was by the congresses of Africa, Asia, central/north America and South America but notably omits any mention of Europe’s UEFA Congress.
The latter conference was the only one which permitted his three challengers to address delegates.
Blatter continues: “I thank you all for your commitment, endeavour, trust and confidence.
“This is how we must go forward together: showing solidarity with each other. Let us share our resources, our knowledge and our opportunities for the greater good.”
Blatter then states his opinion of “work to be done in various areas and that we need to do.”
These include investing in education and women’s football, stepping up anti-discrimination work, better protection of players’ health, fighting match manipulation, consolidating links with commercial partners and “strengthening the position of professional football at FIFA.”
Obviously confident that he will be leading FIFA for many years yet, Blatter exhorts his readers: “Let us forge ahead together in accordance with our slogan: ‘Develop the game, touch the world and build a better future’ – but we must also make sure that thus is not mere wishful thinking.
“Let us assume a true leading role in striving to mkae the world a better place by prolmotiong global harmony through the ‘handshake for peace.'”
FIFA employees are all under strict instructions from secretary-general Jerome Valcke not to mix their professional responsibilities within the organisation with any involvement in the election.