STOCKHOLM: Lennart Johansson believes that Sepp Blatter has lost all credibility and should step down immediately as president of world football federation FIFA.
Johansson, now 82, was president of European federation UEFA from ?? until 2007 when he was ousted by Michel Platini, one of Blatter’s most loyal supporters. More specifically, Johansson was beaten 111-80 amid controversy by Blatter in the 1998 election for the FIFA presidency.
The veteran Swede, a former FIFA vice-president, said in an interview with the BBC’s World Service that change was essential and that this was not possible following Blatter’s unopposed re-election last year for a fourth term in office despite a series of corruption scandals.
Johansson said: “It cannot be that only one man should be dictating and taking all the decisions about world football. There is not much more to do than to get rid of the man in question.” Platini would be an appropriate successor, suggested Johansson because “he is to me closer to what I was looking for.”
Blatter, who is attempting – belatedly and slowly – to effect reform of FIFA’s governance has said he will not run for a fifth term in 2015, when he will be 79. He, too, has spoken approvingly of Platini.
Last month Johansson emerged from retirement to demand an inquiry into claims by another former FIFA vice-president, Jack Warner, that Blatter allowed him to pay just one dollar for World Cup TV rights in the Caribbean in return for presidential election support.
Johansson said then: “For people on the streets FIFA is corruption, is bribery, things like that and they hear it year after year and nothing happens. I can’t see how things like that can change. The question is why [oher members of the executive committee] stay under these circumstances. They don’t like to talk about it and that creates a lot of speculation about why they behave like this.
“We need to investigate Warner’s comments for the reputation of football not to help Mr Warner. Mr Warner made us aware of really what’s happened by telling us about it. Then if he’s telling a lie that should be proved. We will see.”
FIFA had confirmed Warner was once awarded TV rights for a nominal fee but insisted it was a development strategy and not in return for supporting Blatter.