KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: —- Sepp Blatter has confirmed his willingness to continue as FIFA president into the distant future. Along the way he also threw FIFA Congress a bone of controversy in proposing managers’ rights to claim video reviews during a game (separate article).
The 78-year-old Swiss told Congress in 2011 that this would be his last stint but the prospect of relinquishing power and a 24/7 life devoted to FIFA ever since 1975 had grown increasingly distasteful. He has been retreating steadily from that stance and delivered final confirmation to delegates from the world federation’s 209 national associations.
“This Congress is not an elective congress,” he said, “although there has been sometimes the perception that we are going in an election. We are not but we are in a positive mood and I, personally, am in a very positive mood.
“I know my mandate will finish next year on May 29 in Zurich but my mission is not finished. Together we will build a new FIFA together. We have the foundations because we have the budget for the next four years, 2015-2018.
“You will decide who will take this great institution forward. It’s your decision to do so but i can tell you I am ready to accompany you in the future, for the game, for the world.”
Just about everyone stood but it was not a standing ovation merely a communal impatience among the delegates to exit the stifling conference hall.
Blatter had led much of the congress business from the beginning of the day including two other addresses. His presidential address was surprisingly flat and full of platitudes after some positive, earlier welcome remarks which even raised the prospect of Blatter extending his mission to other planets.
He began by addressing “our duty to keep football going forward but also to keep our governance and our control not only on the level of FIFA but the level of the national associations and the level of the confederations. It is not only to develop the game it is also to ensure the integrity of the game and to protect the game, the game of the people.
“Football is not just a game. I don’t know if it is good or not but it is a multibillion dollar business. It creates powerful opportunities but sometimes it creates controversial situations and some difficulties.
“So it is our duty to lead by example and to behave in an exemplary way. It’s our obligation to be fair because we have this idea of fair play in our game and be fair not only on the field of play but outside it.”
He concluded: “If our basic values of football – discipline, respect and fair play – could be accepted everywhere in the world then I would say we have realised our objective.
“But the objective will never finish because our game, the game of the world, is empowering, is growing greater, is growing from north to west to east and south . . . and we shall wonder, one day, whether our game will even be played on other planets. Why not?”