Connect to share and comment

Football: New Asian boss backs Blatter for fifth term

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Asia's new football boss backed FIFA chief Sepp Blatter for a controversial fifth term on Friday as the veteran Swiss dropped a strong hint that he may break promises to step down in 2015.

Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa gave Blatter his unqualified support a day after being elected as head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), a result hailed as "brilliant" by the FIFA president.

"I've just finished my election yesterday. In 2015, we will have to wait and see," Sheikh Salman said, after chairing his first AFC congress in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

"Of course he's (Blatter) always been a supporter of Asia and if he can fulfil and continue as a president, of course I will support him."

The Bahraini royal was speaking after Blatter cheekily joked about staying on during an address to hundreds of football delegates at the AFC congress.

"This will be the last term, not of office -- the last term of the reform," he said with a smile, referring to a process scheduled to be finished by 2015, when he will also complete his latest term.

When Blatter, 77, was re-elected to the post in 2011, during a raging row over corruption, he pledged reforms to clean up the world body and also promised his fourth four-year term would be his last.

Blatter has also faced calls to resign this week for not doing more to stop bribes being paid to senior FIFA officials, including former leader Joao Havelange who stepped down as honorary president.

However, the veteran Swiss campaigner appears emboldened by Thursday's election of Sheikh Salman to the AFC presidency and FIFA executive committee.

The result sweeps away any remaining influence of former AFC boss Mohamed bin Hammam, Blatter's arch-rival who challenged him for the FIFA leadership in 2011 but was accused of vote-buying and banned from football.

th/jms

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130503/football-new-asian-boss-backs-blatter-fifth-term-0