KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Sepp Blatter has offered his clearest indication yet that he will tell FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo next month he intends to stand for a fifth spell as president of the world football federation.
Blatter was speaking during a discussion with Swiss national manager Ottmar Hitzfeld at an event organised by the Swiss publisher Ringier.
The 78-year-old has been leading FIFA since 1998. In response to a question about whether he wanted to continue, Blatter said: “I want to do it . . . My term is indeed over but my mission is not finished yet.”
Blatter had suggested, on his re-election in 2011, that this would be his last term during which he led the FIFA governance reform after a series of scandals over World Cup voting and the presidential election itself.
Over the past 18 months, however, he has dropped an increasing number of hints that he had changed his mind and wished to carry on.
Thus far only former FIFA official Jerome Champagne has declared a formal candidacy ahead of next year’s election at Congress in Zurich. Michel Platini, French president of European federation UEFA, was once considered Blatter’s heir-apparent but has delayed an announcement of his intention until later this year.
General opinion within the game is that – barring a World Cup disaster in Brazil or damaging revelation from an ethics inquiry into the 2018/2022 World Cup votes – Blatter would win again.
The Swiss official, whose FIFA status includes membership of the International Olympic Committee, joined the world federation as development officer in 1975 and was later general secretary under the presidency of Brazilian Joao Havelange.
Mark Pieth, the Basel academic who guided the governance process, suggested recently that Blatter’s continuance in office was probably the best hope of FIFA maintaining its reform process.
On other issues in the discussion, Blatter said expected the Brazil World Cup to be “a great event” and expressed confidence that it would not be harmed by security problems or street demonstrations.
Blatter said: “Four years ago, in South Africa, we were told that it would be dangerous everywhere. Nothing happened! ”