FIFA president Sepp Blatter to seek re-election for another 4-year term in 2011

Thursday, June 10, 2010

FIFA president Blatter declares re-election bid

JOHANNESBURG — FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Thursday that he’ll seek re-election to another four-year term, drawing applause when he told soccer officials from 207 nations he’d run again.

“I will continue to put all my strength, energy, experience and passion in football. If you want it, yes or no?” Blatter said at that the end of the annual FIFA Congress.

The 74-year-old Blatter, of Switzerland, will stand for election at next June’s meeting in FIFA’s home city of Zurich.

At a news conference, Blatter elaborated on a quote from Winston Churchill as he explained his decision to run, which was expected.

“Politicians are asking for election, but statesmen are working for generations,” Blatter said. “So we shall work for the next generation.”

He said his unfulfilled mission — after 12 years as president and 35 years with FIFA — was to persuade people “that football has social and cultural value in the education of young people.”

Blatter was elected FIFA president in 1998 and won a fierce re-election fight at the 2002 congress before being returned unopposed in 2007.

“If there will be more candidates it will be interesting. If there are less candidates, the better,” Blatter said.

Under the Swiss official’s leadership, FIFA has built up reserves of $1 billion thanks to the World Cup’s commercial success.

FIFA agreed to give some of the surplus to its national associations Thursday with one-off payments of $250,000 to each country, and $2.5 million to each of the six continental confederations.

Blatter also said FIFA dropped the so-called “6-plus-5″ rule proposal he supported which sought to limit the number of foreign players in a club team’s starting lineup.

After seeking support for “6-plus-5″ at the past two annual gatherings, Blatter said the plan had become “a little bit diluted” because of problems with European lawmakers.

The European Union regards any move to restrict clubs’ choice of players by nationality as an illegal restraint of workers’ rights. It prefers a UEFA rule which obliges clubs playing in the Champions League to include eight players on a roster of 25 who were trained in that club’s country, regardless of citizenship.

FIFA said it would continue working with the International Olympic Committee and other team sports federations to develop an eligibility rule.

Also Thursday, FIFA confirmed it would meet the IOC’s wish to maintain an age limit of 23 for the men’s football tournament at the 2012 London Olympics, with three overage players allowed.

Blatter revealed he was visited in Zurich by “a very angry” IOC president Jacques Rogge when an under-21 tournament had been proposed. The younger limit would have pleased European clubs who fear losing their best players during the Olympics, when Champions League qualifying rounds are played.

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