Blatter confident of re-election

Blatter believes he will stay in power Keystone Archive

Despite his recent troubles, Switzerland's Sepp Blatter says he fully expects to win a second term as the president of world football governing body FIFA.

This content was published on May 24, 2002 - 14:15

"At the start of the year Mr Blatter received more than 100 letters of support from football associations around the world," Blatter's personal advisor Markus Ziegler told swissinfo on Friday, "and since arriving in Asia he has continued to receive many positive signs."

Although not wishing to be drawn on the number of votes Blatter expected to garner in Wednesday's election, Ziegler said that the incumbent president had been further encouraged by the public support voiced by several associations in recent days.

Nine Arabic associations (Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine) gave their backing to the 66-year-old Swiss on Friday, following similar pledges on Thursday by the associations of Germany, the USA, Bahamas, Dominican Republic and Guatemala.

Blatter clear favourite

Various media soundings have suggested that Blatter's sole rival in Wednesday's election, African confederation president Issa Hayatou, may do well to gather more than 50 votes of the 199 votes available.

Each of the 204 associations affiliated to FIFA are theoretically entitled to one vote for Wednesday's secret ballot, although five (Afghanistan, Cape Verde, Djibouti, Niger and the Turks and Caicos Islands) are currently ineligible because they have not taken part in the required number of FIFA competitions.

Two-thirds of the vote are required to secure the presidency in the opening round of the election. If a second round is necessary, a simple majority will then suffice.

A political football match

"Mr Blatter is very confident but he has always stressed the similarities between elections and football matches," Ziegler told swissinfo. "There will always be winners and losers, favourites and underdogs."

Although Blatter is convinced that his critics have been mounting a slur campaign against his candidacy, Ziegler said the president would accept Wednesday's vote - whatever the outcome.

"The Congress is the democratic basis of world football," Ziegler said. "It is the body that elected Mr Blatter (four years ago) and he has always said it is up to them to say if they still want him rather than being up to five vice-presidents of FIFA's executive committee."

Blatter has been criticised by executive committee opponents of mishandling the organisation's finances and fostering corruption.

Last month, he came under particularly strong fire from his own general secretary and fellow Swiss Michel Zen-Ruffinen, who accused Blatter of buying votes during the last presidential election and of running FIFA like a dictatorship.

The favourite may be on course to win in Seoul, but with Blatter's opponents still threatening legal action in the Swiss courts, Wednesday's vote is unlikely to see the final whistle blown on FIFA's internal squabbling.

by Mark Ledsom

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