x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Sepp Blatter will step down in 2015 if re-elected as Fifa president

The Swiss tells the Uefa congress in Paris that his fourth term as president will be his last as the campaigning for votes start.

PARIS // Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, has announced that his next term will be his last if he is re-elected in the June 1 vote.

Blatter is running for his fourth term but is facing the challenge of Mohamed Bin Hamman, the Qatari president of the Asian Football Confederation, in the election to be held in Zurich, Switzerland.

"You know very well that I am a candidate for the next four years as Fifa president but these will be the last four years for which I stand as a candidate," Blatter said in speech to the Uefa congress in Paris.

"Together we have the task of bringing together the adventure we have started.

"We want to ensure a better future for our youth."

Bin Hammam is also campaigning in Paris today, though for the 61-year-old Qatari, Uefa will be a tough confederation to gain votes, many of whom would prefer Blatter to keep the seat warm for Michel Platini, the Uefa president, to take over in 2015.

While Bin Hammam has promised greater transparency if he ends his rival's 13-year reign, Blatter told the Uefa delegates that football's main challenges in the coming years will be to preserve the identity of clubs and to fight against illegal betting and doping.

"Football is corrupted by all little devils which exist in the world," the 75-year-old Blatter said. "Don't forget that football is a game and that when one is playing, he always tries to cheat a little bit.

"Together we have the task of bringing together the adventure we have started. We want to ensure a better future for our youth."

Bin Hammam, who plans to meet the English Football Association next month as part of his campaign, has also promised more open voting for World Cup bidding, and to limit the presidency to eight years.

"I was a supporter of Blatter and I have never regretted anything about that — he has contributed a lot for the development of the game," Bin Hammam told the Press Association.

"But he has been there a long time in that position. There must be the question: Mr President - when is it enough?

"I will limit myself to a maximum of eight years. If I am elected I will bring the proposal back so that the president of Fifa remains only for eight years.

"Mr Blatter came wanting eight years, two mandates, then 12 years and three mandates, and now four mandates and actually nothing is changing in the last three or four years.

"I am not saying I am the Godfather of football but I don't see anything moving, anything changing.

"Most of what we are seeing and hearing is criticism from outside towards Fifa and most of the time I don't think it's fair."

The FA may provide high-profile backing though - senior figures in the organisation are pushing for them to officially back Bin Hammam though no decision will be made until a board meeting next month.

The challenger insists he would not change the four British associations' privilege of having their own Fifa vice-president.

"No, I will not change that," he said. "I enjoy a very good relationship with the FA and the Premier League and I am planning to meet them next month.