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FIFA president Blatter to stand for fifth term, says luxury watches are a 'non-problem'

The 78-year-old has been FIFA’s leader since 1998, but has faced growing criticism from European football chiefs.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is a controversial figure in the world of football.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter is a controversial figure in the world of football.

FIFA PRESIDENT SEPP Blatter confirmed Friday that he would stand for a fifth term in charge of world football in an election in May next year.

“I have announced to the Executive Committee… that I will accept the demands of different associations and federations (to stand for election) to serve FIFA for a fifth mandate,” Blatter said.

The 78-year-old has been FIFA’s leader since 1998, but has faced growing criticism from European football chiefs in recent months.

The World Cup, a multi-billion dollar earner for FIFA, is also embroiled in controversy over the way the 2018 and 2022 tournaments were decided.

His path to a virtually automatic re-election was opened up after UEFA leader Michel Platini announced in August that he would not challenge Blatter.

“First of all I’m not running – I’m at their disposal. FIFA is a service and I want to go on serving,” Blatter said, stressing that his fourth term had yet to run its full term and that FIFA was “not at the end of our reform”.

“I have been contacted, I have been asked, just before the (pre-World Cup) congress in Sao Paulo by five of the six confederations saying ‘please stay and be our president’ because, at the time at least, they say we have no other candidate.”

Blatter said after winning his fourth term in 2011 that it would be his last, but made it clear in recent months that he has changed his mind.

The election will be held at next FIFA congress in Zurich on May 29, 2015, with candidacy bids open until January 29. So far the only other candidate is Jerome Champagne, a former FIFA deputy secretary general from France.

Champagne, 56, has said FIFA needs reform after widespread accusations of corruption, but has acknowledged he has little chance of beating Blatter.

Turning to the probe into the way the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were awarded, Blatter said there had been “no request” from any FIFA member to publish in full the report by Michael Garcia, the former US federal prosecutor now spearheading allegations of corruption in those two bids.

His comments come despite public pronouncements to the contrary from some FIFA members — and Garcia himself — this week.

Hans-Joachim Eckert, the chairman of FIFA’s adjudicatory chamber, which will decide on the future of the report and whether it will be published, is expected to make a statement on the findings in early November.

Blatter also played down uproar over luxury watches given as a gift to FIFA Executive Committee officials by organisers of the Brazil World Cup.

FIFA officials had been given until October 24 by the Ethics Committee of world football’s governing body to hand back luxury Parmigiani watches, each valued at some 20,000 euros, and offered as “gifts” by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

While European football chief Platini has already said he would not return his watch, Blatter seemed inclined to agree, saying: “This is a non-problem.”

- © AFP, 2014

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