Uefa president Michel Platini said Monday that Fifa president Sepp Blatter had lied about his plans for a new term as he backed Prince Ali bin al Hussein’s bid to oust the head of world football.
Platini said as Fifa’s executive met in Zurich that the 79-year-old Blatter fears a life of “emptiness” if he loses a vote for the presidency on Friday and that the world body will have no credibility if he remains.
Blatter is a strong favourite to win a fifth term in the vote. But he faces an unprecedented challenge and the Jordanian prince also attacked the “waste” and “self-serving policies” of the leadership of the world’s most important sporting federation.
Platini recalled how he had backed Blatter in previous elections and in 2011 the Swiss official had said he would serve one last term.
“He asked us face to face to support him for what would be his last mandate,” Platini told French sports newspaper L’Equipe in an interview.
“I have the unpleasant feeling of having given my support on the basis of a lie,” he added.
Platini said Blatter had made good decisions in his 40-year career, but that he could just not let go of power.
“I understand the fear of emptiness he must feel, that is human,” the Uefa leader said.
“You have to be capable of handing over the reins of power at the right time and not be guilty of holding on to it at any cost.”
Blatter has said he needs a fifth term to complete his “mission” and explained his change of mind by saying “times change” and that he feels fit enough for a fifth term.
“He is not staying on because he has a job to complete or because he still has some big projects to carry out for Fifa,” declared Platini.
“No, he simply is scared of what the future holds for him having consecrated his life to Fifa to the point that he identifies himself totally with it.”
Platini said that he believed that Prince Ali (39) would make a “great president” of Fifa.
“He is not a politician and he does not need Fifa to exist,” said Platini.
The Jordanian prince is the sole remaining challenger to Blatter following last week’s withdrawals of Portugal great Luis Figo and Dutch administrator Michael van Praag.
Prince Ali said in a video appeal to the head of national associations that change is now “urgent” at Fifa.
“The conspicuous waste, the self-serving policies and controversial leadership style of Fifa today have disempowered our national associations, hurt our sport and cost us our dignity,” said the prince who was until last month a Fifa vice president.
Without mentioning the scandals that have tainted Fifa since the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively, the prince said: “Corporate and social responsibilities have been neglected, ethics have fallen by the wayside.
“Decisions about the game have been taken unilaterally and sponsors have left.”
Blatter has strong support from Africa and Asia and is expected to easily get a majority from the 209 member federations on Friday despite the many scandals that have hit Fifa in recent years.
Platini, a member of the Fifa executive meeting in Zurich on Monday and Tuesday, does not vote in the election. The Frenchman decided against challenging Blatter this time but has not ruled out standing in 2019.
Another broadside to Blatter came from Argentine football legend Diego Maradona who told the Daily Telegraph that a fifth term for Blatter would be “an absurdity”.
“Under Sepp Blatter, Fifa has become a disgrace and a painful embarrassment to those of us who care about football deeply,” the 1986 World Cup winner said. – AFP