ZURICH:  Sepp Blatter has warned that the rest of the football world should wake up fast to the dangers threatened by a European takeover of FIFA writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The suspended former president of the world federation sets out his fears for the further unbalancing of the game in his new autobiography**.

Blatter, currently sitting out a six-year suspension imposed by the FIFA ethics committee, was succeeded as president in the spring of 2016 by Swiss fellow countryman Gianni Infantino, the former general secretary of European federation UEFA.

He considers Europe’s seizure of the levers of FIFA power as having been long in the making.

In the early 1980s Brazilian Joao Havelange had beaten off a European bid to replace him as president with Germany’s Hermann Neuberger then Havelange had supported Blatter in 1998 only as a means to halt Sweden’s UEFA supremo Lennart Johansson. In 2002 UEFA vainly backed CAF president Issa Hayatou against Blatter.

Infantino’s style is not to Blatter’s taste.

He says: “We will see what will happen in the election or re-election of the president in 2019 . . . what I do know is that matters cannot continue as they are or it all risks ending badly.

“I do not understand why Gianni Infantino has wiped out everything that I developed for FIFA. He has changed 61 people in the organisation, all the senior and junior management have been swept away. A considerable savoir-faire has been lost and cannot be replaced by famous football players, even if they are named Marco Van Basten or Diego Maradona.”

Former Netherlands centre-forward Van Basten was appointed by Infantino as chief officer for technical development in September 2016 while tormented Argentinian idol Maradona was nominated as a FIFA ambassador February 2017.

Maintaining the Euro-takeover theme, Blatter blames Europe for the failure of his strategy to match Russia and the United States as respective World Cup hosts in 2018 and 2022. France’s UEFA president Michel Platini was aided and abetted in turning the vote, he says, by Spain’s Angel Maria Villar, Belgium’s Michel D’Hooghe and Mario Lefkaritis of Cyprus.

Blatter says: “One could see, once more, that it is European countries behind this rumpus: France for the choice of Qatar; England for encouraging the American investigation. It’s proof that UEFA is seeking by all possible means to regain total control of world football.

“Under my presidency football developed in all the continents with the World Cup generating much more money, of which a large part has been reinvested in the national associations.

“If the other confederations do not react then UEFA will regain totally control of FIFA which would not be good for the development of football worldwide.”

Elsewhere in his book Blatter complains that “the confederations have seized too much power and it has become impossible to turn back the clock.”

He may reflect that this was the price of his own expansionist strategy. FIFA had no option, after building a busy network of youth and women’s tournaments, but to hand over organisational responsibility to these very confederations.

** Ma Verite by Sepp Blatter (with Pascal Schouwey). Published by Editions Heloise d’Ormesson.