Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) President, Sepp Blatter has issued a defiant message to his rivals for his post and challenged European governing body, Union of European Football Association (UEFA) to put up a candidate of its own in the election later this year.
Blatter, who is seeking a fifth term as president, told CNN that he still has unfinished business and would not step aside without a fight.
“I have to say I have not finished my mission because it’s a mission to be in football. We have started in 2011 with the reform process. The reform process is not over. I would like to have these four years to finish it and to show that football is more than a game,” Blatter argued.
But FIFA has been mired in controversy since its decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. Criticism reached a fever pitch when the man hired to investigate the bidding process for those World Cups, U.S. lawyer Michael Garcia, resigned in protest last year, unhappy that the published summary did not accurately reflect his findings.
“All this opposition is coming now it’s unfortunate to say it, it’s coming from Nyon, from UEFA. They don’t have the courage to come in. “So let me go on, be respectful. Because in football you learn to win but you also learn to lose. So I’m going now. If I win the better, if I lose no problem” Blatter added.
A UEFA spokesman said that they had no immediate comment to make over Blatter’s remarks, but added: “Michel Platini will give an update on UEFA’s position regarding the FIFA elections following our ExCo meeting on Monday.”
Three candidates have so far stated their intention to challenge Blatter; Frenchman Jerome Champagne, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan and David Ginola. All must get the backing of at least five of the 209 member associations of FIFA by a deadline of 29 January to get on the ballot paper for the election on 29 May.
Blatter appears unfazed by his likely opponents, with or without another candidate throwing their hat into the ring at this late stage. “I have been asked by the national associations to be their candidate again because nobody that is strong was in. So I go there,” he said.
“I’m now 40 years in FIFA. I’ve been the president since 1998. You know it is impossible to make everybody happy.
“If I would have only positive press then it would not be good. And I like criticism as long as the criticism, I would say fair criticism. I like the discussion to go with that. But listen I’ve been there such a long time now and I just want to finish that,” he added.