KUALA LUMPUR: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has dropped another clear signal of his will to go on and on – whatever his past statements – at the Asian Football Confederation congress in Kuala Lumpur writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Blatter has been present at the election congress which saw Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa voted in as president on Thursday for the next two years in succession to disgraced Mohamed Bin Hammam.
The Asian confederation has been largely frozen in confusion over the past two years and Blatter used the opportunity of his keynote speech to urge it to move forward and fulfil the potential of the continent’s financial power and popular support for the game.
During his speech he signalled, not for the first time lately, that his own personal intention was to carry on what he considers his ‘mission.’
Noting that 50pc of FIFA’s $1bn revenue comes from Asian sponsors and broadcasters Blatter said: “Asia is a powerhouse. You must be aware of this power and use it well and use it in solidarity with others to help realise our goals of developing the game and preparing a better future.”
This leverage, suggested Blatter, should include pressing for more places at the World Cup final.
The unspoken suggestion that Blatter would support such a move will be seen, inevitably, as an electioneering ploy ahead of the 2015 FIFA presidential ballot.
Asia has a guaranteed four places compared with Africa’s comparatively over-stated five and was, Blatter acknowledged, “under-represented” when Europe and South America shared 19 slots.
He said: “Perhaps we should not change a lot but we have the right, and you have the right, and I have the obligation and the responsibility to bring this matter to discussion.”
No end in sight
Talking more widely of the future of his presidency and the world federation’s controversial reform process, Blatter said: “This will be the last term, not of office, but the last term of reform, therefore in 2015 we shall have finished our reform.”
Initially Blatter had pushed for reforms to be completed by the FIFA congress at the end of this month in Mauritius. However he has also said he intends to hand over only to someone who can see his manifesto through.
Blatter repeated his congratulations to the new AFC president who won 33 of the 46 votes to sweep to victory on Thursday ahead of Thailand’s Worawi Makudi (seven votes) and Yousuf Al Serkal of the UAE (six).
“What prevailed in this electoral congress was discipline and respect,” said Blatter. “It was a great congress and the procedures for the election were made with total transparency. Good luck for the future . . . with unity you cannot fail.”