Football: Blatter to declare candidacy in face of European opposition

Football: Blatter to declare candidacy in face of European opposition
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (2nd R) attends a media conference in Sao Paulo June 5, 2014.

SAO PAULO - Embattled FIFA leader Sepp Blatter is expected to defy opposition from European football chiefs and declare his candidacy for a new term at football governing body's congress on Wednesday.

Controversy surrounding the 78-year-old Swiss official and accusations of corruption against Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid have tainted the buildup to the start of the Brazil World Cup in Sao Paulo on Thursday.

Blatter has been criticised for saying that corruption allegations against Qatar - led by the British media - was racism. Several top European football officials have called on Blatter to stand down when his term ends next year.

Blatter, who acceded to the top job in 1998, is likely to get the standing acclamation from all the confederations bar UEFA when he announces his candidacy however.

Michael van Praag, head of the Dutch football association, challenged Blatter when he appeared before a closed meeting of the European confederation, UEFA, on Tuesday.

"Mr Blatter, this is nothing personal but if you look at FIFA's reputation over the last seven or eight years, it is being linked to all kinds of corruption and all kinds of old boys' networks things," Van Praag said he had told Blatter.

"FIFA has an executive president and you are not making things easy for yourself and I do not think you are the man for the job any longer." Blatter replied that he would not resign straight away, according to the official.

UEFA president Michel Platini has been touted as a possible rival to Blatter when the FIFA vote is held in May next year. Platini has said he will only decide his candidacy in September.

Van Praag said that if Platini does not stand then UEFA should agree another candidate to stand against the Swiss official.

Blatter was given a standing ovation when he spoke before the African, Asian and North American-Caribbean confederations on Monday. "This time, before UEFA, he did not get it," van Praag said.

Blatter's rule has never seen a controversy like the accusations that Qatar paid for votes when FIFA chose the Gulf country to host the 2022 World Cup.

Qatar has strongly denied involvement in wrongdoing. But allegations made in British newspaper The Sunday Times are expected to be raised at the FIFA congress.

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