Fifa president Sepp Blatter insisted on Tuesday that the future of world football’s governing body was dependant on his re-election to a fourth term in office.
Blatter, who has served as Fifa president since 1998, will be challenged by Qatari Mohammed Bin Hammam (61), currently president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), during elections on June 1.
And the 75-year-old Swiss believes that his rival wants “total change”, which could lead to the “dismantling” and “collapse” of Fifa.
“I’m very confident,” Blatter said of his bid to win another four-year term.
“Fifa isn’t ready for total change, where the running of operations would go to the six confederations,” he said. “If we dismantle the pyramid, it will fall down. Some say ‘I’m going to vote like that’, but I’m sure that the national federations will maintain what is established and serious.
“In 2002, when they wanted to kick me, they said, ‘You don’t have money, you’re badly managed’. Subsequently it was proved otherwise.”
Blatter said that his passion for football continues to drive him and his work is not yet finished.
“I have to finish my work, my project is based on education through football. To develop the game, transform lives, to build a better future.
“Football is based on discipline, respect, the fight in the spirit of fair play. We can transform society with 300-million active participants, who with their families, represent nearly a billion people. This game is hope: if I lose now, I can win tomorrow. It’s a wonderful school for life.”
Fight against corruption
The fight against corruption has become a focal point of the election campaign as the head of England’s 2018 World Cup bid, Lord David Triesman, last week accused senior Fifa officials of demanding cash and honours in return for votes before a British parliamentary hearing.
“That hurts Fifa and as I personally identify myself either rightly or wrongly with Fifa — I’ve worked here for 36 years [president since 1998] — that hurts,” said Blatter.
Blatter said, however, he had been boosted by the support he had received from Uefa president Michel Platini and the Oceania Federation.
“It was a very strong sign, a strong statement from Michel Platini. I also received the support of Oceania, South America and Concacaf indirectly, and I spoke with the African Confederation who told me: ‘Africa cannot forget what you did for her’.”
He added that he would not be drawn into a slanging match with his rival, Bin Hammam, who has criticised Blatter’s decision to allocate €20-million of Fifa money to an anti-corruption taskforce run with Interpol.
“I don’t attack anyone, I attack their programme,” said Blatter.
“What he said in his blog, where he criticised the Fifa president because he’s going to fight against illegal betting and match-fixing by financing this battle … Criticising that, while at the same time saying that he wants to fight corruption … I’ll let you judge for yourself.” — Sapa-AFP