ZURICH: FIFA president Sepp Blatter is still pursuing his mission – and that is why he intends to stand for a fifth term at the head of the world football federation despite the avalanche of criticism writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Blatter smiled confidently through a series of questions from CNN about his intentions while taking time out at the Zurich Horse Show.
“I have not finished my mission,” he said while conceding that not everyone was as enthusiastic about him staying on for a further four years after the presidential election at FIFA Congress in the organisation’s home city of Zurich on May 29.
“It is impossible to make everyone happy,” said Blatter while revealing that “I like criticism as long as the criticism is fair.”
Clearly, however, he did not feel that the criticism flowing in over the past year in particular from European federation UEFA was fair.
Last June, in Sao Paulo, Blatter’s triumphal walking tour through the pre-World Cup conferences of the six continental confederations was brought to a shuddering halt by UEFA.
Several senior UEFA members, including notably Dutch federation president Michael Van Praag, told Blatter to his face that he had lost credibility and was wrong to change his mind – as expressed in 2011 – about stepping down.
The trouble was that UEFA could not come up with a presidential rival of their own; even president Michel Platini preferred to retreat from the prospect of taking on his old sports political mentor.
Blatter observed: “All the criticism is coming from Nyon, from UEFA. [but] they don’t have the courage to come in [against me].”
He taunted Platini and Co: “Football is a team sport so let’s go together as a team. I invite UEFA and especially its leaders who are so bitterly against me: ‘Join me.'”
UEFA’s executive committee is expected to decide this week to throw its weight behind FIFA’s Asian vice-president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan.
Other declared candidate include former FIFA official Jerome Champagne, who has admitted concerns over obtaining the essential five nominations, and bookmaker-backed ex-France star David Ginola.
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