Sepp Blatter Refuses to Give Up FIFA Presidency

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By Andrew Warshaw

Sepp Blatter has laid down the gauntlet to any potential challengers by clearly indicating he aims to continue as FIFA President and be re-elected halfway through 2011 for what would be an unprecedented fourth term.

Blatter, who at this stage looks like being unopposed, has announced he will attend the congresses of all six confederations before the FIFA Congress in Paris on June 1 where the Presidency will be decided.

The 74-year-old Blatter, who is also an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, has had a mixed deal in 2010, successfully breaking new ground by taking the World Cup to South Africa but suffering huge criticism over the decision to stage simultaneous votes for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

In his New Year message Blatter said: "The outstanding events of the year highlighted again the social and cultural dimension of football.

"The first FIFA World Cup on African soil, which saw Spain emerge as new world champions, and the prestigious FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, at which an African team reached the final for the first time, are just two examples of the universal power of our sport.

"At FIFA, we will therefore continue to pursue our goal of constantly developing football all over the world.

"The awarding of 2018 to Russia and 2022 to Qatar means that our flagship tournament is charting new territories and it gives me great joy to see the FIFA World Cup spread to new geographical regions and cultures, thus furthering football's development all over the world."

Blatter's first port of call in 2011 will be the Asian Football Confederation Congress just before the Asian Cup, ironically taking place in Qatar, controversial 2022 World Cup hosts.

He made a point of stressing that he would endeavour to address the concerns of all of FIFA's member associations during the year "setting a strategic course for the an even more targeted and needs-based manner".

One of the most intriguing aspects of the next six months is whether anyone suddenly emerges to take Blatter on.

FIFA vice-president Chung Mong Joon has indicated in recent months that he might challenge, while Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohammed Bin Hammam is another name being discussed.

Both their positions should become clearer at the upcoming AFC congress on January 6.