Sepp Blatter eyes a final term as FIFA president

The Associated Press
Tuesday, March 22, 2011; 12:17 PM

PARIS -- FIFA President Sepp Blatter says his next term will be his last if he is re-elected in June.

The 75-year-old Blatter is seeking a fourth term, running against Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam. Blatter has led soccer's governing body since 1998 and faces his first challenge since 2002 by Issa Hayatou.

"Those will be the last four years I aspire to," Blatter said Tuesday at the UEFA Congress at the Grand Palais.

Bin Hammam, the Asian Football Confederation president, is also attending and lobbying European federation presidents for their vote June 1 in Zurich.

Bin Hammam has promised greater transparency if he ends his rival's 13-year reign. Blatter told delegates from European soccer's ruling group that the sport's main challenges are to preserve the identity of clubs and to fight illegal betting and doping.

"Football is corrupted by all little devils which exist in the world," he said. "Don't forget that football is a game and that when one is playing, he always tries to cheat a little bit. Together we have the task of bringing together the adventure we have started. We want to ensure a better future for our youth."

Blatter said FIFA will have a "zero-tolerance" policy in the fight against corruption. Several FIFA officials were suspended for seeking bribes during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

UEFA members make up more than one quarter of the maximum 208 FIFA voters that Blatter and bin Hammam will attempt to woo. The winner needs a two-thirds majority of votes cast in the first ballot or a majority in the second. FIFA has set an April 1 deadline for nominations.

Bin Hammam said Monday he offered a deal to UEFA President Michel Platini for European support to help him oust Blatter. Platini, the former France captain, won another term as UEFA president Tuesday. He said in January he would not run for the FIFA presidency, promising UEFA members he would serve four more years.

"It's a good thing that we have two candidates bidding. It should help democracy progress," Platini said. "Both candidates will probably come up with new ideas."

Asked which candidate he will support, Platini said that as UEFA president he is not allowed to say.

"I have to listen to all opinions before we have an official stance," he said.

Platini also dodged a question about his interest in the FIFA presidency in four years.

"Let's meet again in three years and I will tell you," he said.

© 2011 The Associated Press