Update from Thursday, June 12
UEFA president Michel Platini has confirmed he will no longer be a supporter of Sepp Blatter after the 78-year-old revealed he will stand for a fifth term as FIFA supremo.
Platini, who may yet oppose Blatter for the role, was quoted saying by Sky Sports:
I am supporting him no longer, it's finished. He knows it, I told him. I think FIFA needs a new breath of fresh air.
Sepp Blatter has officially confirmed his desire to stand for re-election as FIFA president, despite calls for the Swiss leader to draw a line under his controversial tenure in charge.
The 78-year-old is looking to win his fifth consecutive election, the first coming in 1998, reported by BBC Sport:
I know that my mandate will finish next year on 29 May in Zurich. But my mission is not finished. And I tell you together we will build the new Fifa together. We have the foundations today because we have the budget for the next four years. We have the foundation, now we work. Congress you will decide who takes this great institution forward. But I can tell you I am ready to accompany you in the future.
Blatter's declaration comes on the heels of FIFA turning down age limits for its members, via BBC Breaking News:
During Blatter's remarks, he also recommended adding a challenge system to matches so that managers can appeal a referee's decision, via Mattias Karen of the Associated Press:
Blatter's announcement comes just hours after he received yet another hounding from professionals within the game related to the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
Many believe a re-run of the vote that handed Qatar the 2022 event should take place as allegations of corruption gather pace, reported by Helen Barratt of the Express:
Documents expose how former vice-president of Fifa Mohamed Bin Hammam made dozens of payments worth more than $5million to senior football officials to boost support for the country's campaign.
The disgraced executive committee member (Exco) made payments of up to $200,000 to presidents of 30 African football associations who could influence the four African Exco members to vote in favour of Qatar. He also paid $1.6million into bank accounts controlled by Jack Warner, the Exco member for Trinadad and Tobago.
Blatter's response to such claims did little to deter the situation. "There is a sort of storm against FIFA relating to the Qatar World Cup," he said, per BBC Sport. "Sadly there's a great deal of discrimination and racism."
Marina Hyde of The Guardian offered an interesting take on Blatter's comments. Instead of indicating the British press are racist toward Qatar, she believes the all-encompassing power of Blatter's reign has produced an indoctrinating reaction from the FIFA head:
I have another theory, given the persecuted tenor of the rest of the Fifa president’s comments: that he has finally gone the whole hog and perceives Fifa itself to be a race. For a man who has for so long characterised himself as noble yet besieged, you have to think Fifa-ism was always the next logical step.
Greg Dyke, chairman of the English FA, believes Blatter's reaction overlooks the main issue, via BBC Sport:
"These allegations need to be properly investigated and properly answered," said Dyke. "Mr Blatter, many of us are deeply troubled by your reaction to these allegations."
According to ESPN FC, former Manchester United chairman David Gill spoke his mind with regards to Blatter, saying, "I think we need to move on. I think we need a full, frank and open debate about what FIFA needs going forward."
Michael van Praag, head of the Dutch FA, followed suit when discussing Blatter. He indicated it is time for the president to step aside and take responsibility for turning the governing body into a laughing stock, as noted by BBC Sport:
Few people still take Fifa seriously and, however you look at it, Blatter is mainly responsible. [...]
You are not making things easy for yourself and I do not think you are the man for the job any longer. Fifa's image has deteriorated because of everything that's happened in recent years. People link Fifa to corruption and bribery and all kinds of old boy's networks.
ESPN FC reports "German FA president Wolfgang Niersbach and Norway's executive committee member Karen Espelund all called on Blatter not to stand for a fifth term." The publication also highlighted Michel Platini is "very proud" of European football's battle against Blatter, perhaps handing the UEFA overseer an advantage if he decides to challenge for the FIFA presidency.
Despite consistent struggles, Blatter's reign has served up examples of success. The decision to hand Russia and Qatar World Cups should be applauded for taking football to wider regions, although the latter's lack of infrastructure and searing heat adds to the argument it makes little sense for the Asian nation to host such a prestigious event.
His decision to provide Brazil with $100 million after the 2014 World Cup is also welcome as the nation continues to accumulate rising costs for a tournament that has thrust the region into mass protest, per the Associated Press, via FoxSports.com.
Blatter also donated £20 million to Interpol in order to combat match-fixing and eventually adopted goal-line technology—somewhat belatedly—after watching many controversial moments affect the results of matches.
Even so, accusations surrounding Qatar 2022 offer the latest controversy in a tenure riddled with problems for Blatter. He previously suggested female footballers should wear tighter shorts and indicated on-field racism could be forgotten with a handshake long after being investigated for financial mismanagement in 2002.
While he appears more than willing to continue wading through criticism, the Qatar situation will make or break Blatter's future. Should the aforementioned allegations be proven, the seemingly invincible guise of Blatter will be broken. His recent retort suggesting the British press is racist doesn't help his reputation and suggests he is on the defensive, struggling to face the truth.
Even so, Blatter still has many supporters within FIFA. His detractors are currently being extremely vocal and aim to drum up support against the regime at a sensitive time, making it difficult to confidently judge exactly how much aid Blatter has from the organisation itself.
Although the Swiss leader screams of an individual who ignores responsibilities that coincide with his power, he may be forced to negotiate through his toughest hurdle yet if he is to remain on the throne next year.
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