KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: Michel Platini expressed his pride in the way ‘his’ European federation ambushed Sepp Blatter . . . then set aside any ill feeling to share the football side of the staging at the gala which opened FIFA Congress.
Both presidents – FIFA’s Blatter and UEFA’s Platini – were involved in distributing various merit awards inbetween the glamorous show presentation by Fernanda Lima.
Earlier, however, Platini had said: “I am proud of my associations,” after Blatter was left in no doubt that he will gain few votes from Europe when he stands next year for a further term at the head of the world federation.
Blatter, who was persuaded to show off briefly his dancing talents by Lima, told delegates from the 209 member associations: “We are in festive mood . . . a spirit of fair play shall prevail. Thousands and thousands of fans from around the world are coming to Brazil, testimony to this fiesta.
“It is the World Cup for the world. Brazil will send emotions that we need in this perturbed world, connecting people and constructing bridges – and during the 32 days of the World Cup it is our wish that all belligerent activities should stop,.”
Blatter estimated that 400m fans around the world would watch the 64 World Cup matches on TV over the next month. The world, he said, was anticipating excitedly “a great World Cup played in a spirit of fair play.”