Blatter at the reception on Tuesday night (CONMEBOL)

(WFI) Sepp Blatter delivers a charm offensive at a CONMEBOL reception in
Paraguay, as his three rivals seek to halt his seemingly unassailable
quest to win a fifth term as FIFA chief.

In his remarks to delegates drawn from the 10-member South American Football Confederation, as well as UEFA and CONCACAF presidents, Michel Platini and Jeffrey Webb, the Swiss made his first appeal to a regional federation since officially launching his presidential campaign last month.

The 78-year-old noted the importance of CONMEBOL in world football; as the first confederation created in 1916, it will celebrate its centenary next year with a major tournament, the Copa Centenario.

“We all know from experience that football is the only sport that unites the world,” he said, according to the CONMEBOL website. “It reminds us what we can achieve with this sport. It shows the potential, we can create together.

He signed off by suggesting CONMEBOL members united behind him. “The principle of solidarity is essential for FIFA and football,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Blatter and his three presidential rivals presented their FIFA presidential manifestos to CONMEBOL leaders, according to reports from Paraguay.

CONMEBOL’s executive committee apparently made the decision to back Blatter in the May 29 election, according to unidentified sources quoted in reports by the Associated Press and Reuters.

But this won’t deter Blatter’s rivals, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, Dutch FA chief Michael van Praag and former Portugal star Luis Figo. The UEFA-backed trio will use Wednesday’s CONMEBOL Congress to lobby for votes among leaders of the 10 member associations of the confederation.

They recognise that it’s the individual FAs who will decide where to cast their votes.

However, Blatter will have an edge on his challengers to the FIFA throne when he gets the chance to woo delegates again in a speech to the congress.

CONMEBOL president Juan Angel Napout will today be re-elected unopposed to serve a four-year term.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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