FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he is prepared to bid for a fifth term
77-year-old will stand for re-election if backed by member associations
Swiss has been in charge of FIFA since 1998
World governing body FIFA has had just two presidents in 40 years and current incumbent Sepp Blatter has given his strongest indication yet that he wants to extend that record further.
The Swiss has been in charge since 1998, when Brazilian Joao Havelange ended his 24-year reign.
Prior to being elected unopposed for a fourth term in 2011, Blatter – who turns 78 next month – said he would stand down in 2015.
Yet an interview with Swiss radio on Friday shows that he has had a change of heart ahead of next year’s elections.
“If I have the health – and currently I am in good health – I don’t see why I should stop the work,” Blatter told the public station RTS.
“FIFA needs consolidation. Many people say it needs to be continued.”
“I will not shout ‘I’m a candidate’ but if the member associations ask me, I will not say no.”
As with any potential candidate, Blatter – who started working for FIFA as a Technical Director in 1975 – needs the support of five national associations to be eligible to stand for election.
He has previously spoken of a desire to fulfill his mission, as he looks to secure his legacy.
Widely criticized for controversial comments about racism and FIFA’s handling of the bidding process to stage both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, Blatter will point to having taken the tournament to Africa in 2010 and to the Middle East in eight years’ time as among his greatest successes.
So far, only Blatter’s former aide Jerome Champagne has thrown his hat into the ring for the elections in June 2015.
The Frenchman, who served as FIFA’s deputy Secretary General between 2002 and 2005, announced his candidature in London last month.
At the time, he said he was not sure he could beat Blatter should his former boss decide to run but Champagne refused to comment when contacted by CNN on Friday.
UEFA president Michel Platini, a former France international, has also been widely tipped to run for office but a man who Blatter described in 2012 as “ready” to succeed him has yet to reveal his hand.
FIFA followers speculated last October about whether Blatter was set to stand again after he said that both Africa and Asia deserved more representation at the 32-team World Cup.
“It cannot be that the European and South American confederations lay claim to the majority of the berths at the World Cup (18 or 19 teams), because taken together they account for significantly fewer member associations (63) than Africa and Asia (100),” he wrote.
With each of FIFA’s 209 member associations holding one vote, such comments were construed by some as a bid to curry favor with two sizable voting blocs.
They came in the same month as Jeffrey Webb, the head of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), ruled himself out of contention for football’s most important job.
Blatter, who will be 78 in March, was elected unopposed for a fourth term in 2011 after his rival Mohamed Bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy after being accused of attempting to buy votes – a charge he was later cleared of.
He is only the eighth president in the history of FIFA, an organization that was founded in 1904.