(WFI) Sepp Blatter says he wants to “build a new FIFA” with the help of member associations, effectively confirming as expected that he will stand for re-election next year.
In his closing remarks to the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo, the Swiss laid on the charm, citing the bonuses the 209 federations ($750,000) and confederations ($7m) would receive from the current cycle before tapping delegates for support.
“We are in a positive mood and I personally am in a very positive mood. I know my mandate will finish next year on 29 may. But my mission is not finished,” he said, pausing to milk the applause of the federation leaders which can be seen as a ringing endorsement for his re-election.
“I tell you, together we will build the new FIFA together. Congress you will decide who will take his our institution forward. But I am ready to accompany you in the future, for the game for the world,” he added.
Questioned at a press conference later if he was declaring his candidacy, the 78-year-old declined to elaborate on his comments, pointing to new electoral regulations and mentioning the candidature deadline in January.
Blatter came under fire at the UEFA Congress yesterday, where two federation heads stood up and challenged him to step down, while a handful of officials also called for him to go. But he won huge support at the other five confederations’ annual congresses.
Given the European backlash, he was asked if he could imagine a situation where he wouldn’t run as president.
“I have had to accept a number of blows and the lack of respect that I saw and heard in the UEFA meeting I have not had in my entire life,” he said.
Mafia Family Jibe
Blatter declined to react to comments made by Lord Triesman, the former head of England’s World Cup bid, who on Wednesday said FIFA was acting like a “mafia family”.
The ex-English FA chairman, who has previously alleged that four FIFA ExCo members demanded bribes in return for votes in the World Cup bidding contest, suggested Blatter’s attempt to shrug off allegations of corruption swirling around the Qatar World Cup bid was worthy of Godfather Don Corleone.
In comments about the World Cup, kicking off Thursday at Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians, he would not be drawn on the most difficult challenge of the seven-year build-up to the June 12 opener. Blatter has left FIFA No.2 Jerome Valcke to deal with a series of problems, most centred
around stadium delays, in his role as World Cup project manager.
“I am happy we have the kick off and then everyone will be in the game. I always like Brazil. Brazil is for me a country of football,” he said.
Corruption-buster Garcia on Bid Probe
FIFA’s chief ethic investigator Michael Garcia spoke at the congress about his 18-month probe into the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process. He opened by saying there had been a lot of “misconceptions” about the work of the ethics chamber.
“We treat witnesses and parties fairly,” he said, claiming investigators did not “swoop in unannounced” on FIFA Exco members or others involved involved in the controversial December 2010 vote. Russia and Qatar were awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
“What is required in return is full cooperation in establishing the facts in complete and truthful answers to questions,” he added.
Garcia said he and his ethics commission colleague had interviewed every bid team and all FIFA ExCo members who cast votes in the secret ballot, or attempted to do so, and reviewed “tens of thousands” of documents.
“No one should assume the information we have or do not have,” he added, a pointed remark seemingly aimed at the team behind the Sunday Times investigation into Qatar’s former FIFA ExCo member Mohamed Bin Hammam.
The newspaper says the information was leaked by a FIFA insider, but it is more likely to have come from an Asian Football Confederation source.
Garcia said the “vast majority of that material has been available to us for some time”.
“It’s impossible to know if new information will emerge in the future. We are always willing to listen to what people have to say and to anything presented to us.”
He concluded: “We will follow our process through. We believe we will produce a report that is comprehensive and fair to all parties.”
His report is due to FIFA’s adjudicatory chamber at the end of July. Any sanctions for individuals or the bidding nations are not expected until a few months later.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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