Skip to main content

Top football chiefs oppose Sepp Blatter's U-turn over FIFA presidency

By Paul Gittings, CNN
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Wed June 11, 2014
The 78-year-old Sepp Blatter is serving his fourth four-year term as FIFA president.
The 78-year-old Sepp Blatter is serving his fourth four-year term as FIFA president.
  • Sepp Blatter facing calls not to stand for re-election as FIFA president
  • UEFA chiefs openly oppose his bid for a further term
  • Blatter's current four-year term comes to an end in 2015
  • Blatter set to state his intentions to FIFA Congress Wednesday

Follow us at @WorldSportCNN and like us on Facebook

(CNN) -- Sepp Blatter faced a revolt from leading European football officials Tuesday over his intention to stand for re-election as FIFA president for a fifth four-year term from 2015.

According to UEFA sources, Blatter, 78, told a meeting of the European football confederation in Sao Paulo that he would be seeking a further mandate.

It reverses a pledge made in 2011 that he would not stand again and influential delegates at the meeting openly voiced their opposition to his U-turn.

Champagne: Football has lost credibility
Winter or summer for Qatar 2022?

"The atmosphere was quite tense during and after Blatter's short speech," the sources told CNN.

Blatter was directly challenged by Michael Van Praag, president of the Dutch FA, who told him that he should not continue after 2015 in his role.

Praag, a member of UEFA's executive committee, later relayed to gathered reporters outside the meeting what he had told Blatter.

Read: Media scrutiny key to FIFA reforms

"I then said at the microphone: 'I like you a lot, there is nothing personal here, but the reputation of FIFA is today inextricably linked to corruption.

"FIFA has a president. You are responsible, you should not stand again."

David Gill, the English FA's representative on the Exco committee, also called on Blatter to reconsider his decision to seek re-election.

"The very fact in 2011 he was clear it was just for four years, that should have been the situation. To change his mind is disappointing," he said.

"I think we need a full, frank and open debate about what FIFA needs going forward," he added.

FIFA president Blatter controversial
Brazil prepares for World Cup in 2014

Gill's colleague, English FA chairman Greg Dyke, criticized Blatter in a strongly-worded statement to the meeting.

Dyke was angered over Blatter's reported comments to the African Football Confederation (CAF) Monday that allegations of corruption made against the successful Qatar bid for the 2022 World Cup were motivated by racism and discrimination.

Read: Sponsors up pressure on FIFA over 2022

"I said to him, 'I regard the comments you made yesterday about allegations in the British media in which you described them as racist as totally unacceptable," Dyke told gathered reporters.

"The allegations being made are nothing to do with the racism, they are allegations about corruption."

Dyke also voiced his disappointment over Blatter's intention to stand for re-election.

"We accepted four years ago he was going to step down (in 2015) and it's a surprise he is going to stand again," he told Sky Sports News.

"We would like to see an election, a competition and some different candidates," added Dyke.

The Dutch and British representatives were not alone in expressing their dismay over the leadership of football's world governing body.

According to UEFA sources, four members of its executive committee and its general secretary, Gianni Infantino, openly questioned Blatter's governance and his ability to lead necessary reforms in briefings to the media.

Blatter, who has been president of FIFA since 1998, will address its 64th Congress meeting Wednesday in Sao Paulo where it is expected he will make public his decision to stand for re-election.

The same meeting will also hear from U.S. lawyer Michael Garcia, who has been appointed by FIFA to lead an investigation into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, awarded to Russia and Qatar.

Read: FIFA investigator set to reveal Qatar findings

Garcia was given the task of probing allegations of bribery and corruption, but his findings are not due to be made public until mid-July.

His investigation has been brought into sharp focus by a series of articles in the British newspaper The Sunday Times on the Qatar bid.

The newspaper claims to have unearthed millions of emails and other documentation which allege Qatar's former FIFA member Mohamed Bin Hammam used a multi-million dollar slush fund to buy support for the bid.

The claims have been strenuously denied by Qatar organizers, who in a statement released to CNN Sunday said they had been co-operating fully with Garcia's investigation.

"We remain totally confident that any objective inquiry will conclude we won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup fairly," it added.

The latest controversies come in the countdown to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which will start Thursday in Sao Paulo with a game between the hosts and Croatia.

Read: Blatter prepared to stand for re-election

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.