FIFA president Blatter to stand for re-election

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is expected to run for re-election in 2011, saying Tuesday he still wants to introduce new initiatives to develop football worldwide.

“I have not finished my mission to develop the game,” Blatter said Tuesday after announcing the creation of an award to honor Hungarian great Ferenc Puskas. “We are now in 2009 and I am not a prophet. It will be up to the (FIFA) congress to decide if a get a new term.”

Blatter did not formally declare his candidacy to his 23 colleagues on FIFA’s ruling executive committee when they met in Rio de Janeiro three weeks ago.

“There was no announcement. But it’s not a surprise,” FIFA executive member Marios Lefkaritis from Cyprus said. “We are talking about the presidency of FIFA and the (election) congress is only 18 months from now. A candidate should announce or make his intentions known.”

Lefkaritis, who represents UEFA at FIFA, said Blatter presided over a successful annual congress in the Bahamas last June.

“For seven years I think everything has been harmonized,” Lefkaritis said. “It has been a long, long time since there was aggressive behavior.”

FIFA’s next congress is to be held June 10-11 in Johannesburg on the eve of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Blatter’s third term ends at the 2011 gathering scheduled for Switzerland.

Candidates can be nominated by any of FIFA’s 208 national member associations, and must be proposed in writing at least two months before the congress.

The winning candidate must achieve two-thirds of valid votes recorded in the first round of a secret ballot, or a simple majority in subsequent rounds.

Blatter, in a story published Tuesday in La Gazzetta dello Sport, also said that FIFA was wrong to seed the European World Cup playoff matches.

FIFA was criticized for announcing only a few weeks ago that the eight playoff teams from Europe would be seeded. Ireland coach Giovanni Trappatoni claimed it was a way of ensuring that the more powerful teams, such as France and Portugal, were given an easier chance of reaching next year’s tournament in South Africa.

Ireland drew France for the two-leg playoff next month.

“He’s right. We should have announced it from the start,” Blatter said. “There is something in the rules, but it isn’t clear. If we learn, we’ll change for 2014, but in 180 minutes anything is possible.”

Blatter also said that FIFA wouldn’t enforce a salary cap on teams, but continued to call on club presidents to curb their spending. He said FIFA would continue to try to enforce the 6+5 system of six domestic players alongside five non-nationals per team, despite it contravening European Union work rules.

“I’m happy that (Silvio) Berlusconi, (Roman) Abramovich, (Massimo) Moratti and all the others have finally stopped wasting money, but there won’t be a salary cap,” Blatter said. “We can’t intervene in a free-market system, which works with supply and demand. The solution is something else: the 6+5 system. It would develop players, teams would spend less and it would help national teams.”