ZURICH: Sepp Blatter, in appealing for support for a fifth term of president of FIFA, played heavily on the weight of his experience being an essential quality for a leader in difficult times writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

He acknowledged that the judicial assault on FIFA in both Zurich and New York on Wednesday was “a storm which has shaken us over the last few days.”

Then he launched into what had clearly been the core of his address before Wednesday’s police raids and arrests, tracking back over his commitment to development of the game around the world.

Blatter, speaking as if addressing a group of old friends, said: “Now I have the opportunity to thank you for having followed the development of FIFA which started 40 years back and thank you for shaing with me the philosophy of development and education which continues forward.

“It will continue and it would be a pleasure to continue, with you, the work and commitments we have taken on for years now. We don’t need revolutions but we always neeed evolutions.”

Blatter conceded that he was “being held accountable for the current storm.” He accepted that responsibility.

He also promised: “I want to fix FIFA together with you and I want to do it now and tomorrow and the day after and in the weeks and months to come so that, at the end of my term of office, I can hand over a solid FIFA which will have emerged from the storm as a strong FIFA – a FIFA that will have enough safeguards to not need political interventions.”

Promises, promises

Another promise concerned the need for change “starting tomorrow.”

He pledged the creation of a special department for the professional game which “needs greater recognition within FIFA” and to maintain the major international competitions “because the World Cup is the goose that lays the golden eggs.”

Other issues on his proposed future agenda included corruption, racism, match manipulation, doping and violence.

Blatter was even happily able to promote his pet concept of the ‘handshake of peace’ which had just been shared in front of all of congress by the federation presidents of Palestine and Israel.

Everything, it appeared, was conspiring in Blatter’s favour.

In his concluding appeal for re-election Blatter was even able to raise a smile at his own expense.

He said: “I would say to you humbly that I am with you. I’ve been with you for a long time – some would say for too long – ┬ábut I find the time I’ve spent at FIFA seems to have been very short.

“So I would like to continue with you. It’s a matter of trust. Trust on your side, respect for you on mine. I am at your disposal and, if you want me, then I thank you for it.

“Football is more than a game and what footnall needs right now is a strong leader, an experienced leader, a leader who knows all the ins and outs of the situation.”

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