Sepp Blatter has confirmed he will stand for a fifth term as President of football’s world governing body FIFA during a video interview broadcast at the Soccerex Conference in Manchester, where he also hinted television referrals may be trialled as early as next year’s Under-20 World Cup.
The 78-year-old Swiss had been widely expected to seek another four years at the helm and he made it official today in a pre-recorded interview played at the Manchester Central venue hosting the conference.
He said he will inform the FIFA Executive Committee of his decision at its next meeting scheduled for September 25 and 26.
“It’s a question of respect also to say then to the football family: ‘Yes I will be ready’,” said Blatter.
“‘I will be a candidate.'”
First elected in 1998, Blatter had previously suggested his current term would be his last after being elected unopposed in 2011.
However, in a move that has angered European football’s governing body UEFA in particular; he has backtracked on that and will now seek to extend his stay at the top of world football until 2019.
Despite openly calling for Blatter to step aside, UEFA President Michel Platini has already ruled himself out of the running for the job when elections take place in May next year.
Platini and fellow UEFA delegates have been fiercely critical of Blatter’s handling of a series of damaging allegations, including the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.
Both bids are the subject of an ongoing investigation into corruption.
At the FIFA Congress in São Paulo held on the eve this year’s World Cup in Brazil, Blatter came under fire from a number of top European football officials including chairman of the English Football Association, Greg Dyke, who told the Swiss, “many of us are deeply troubled by your reaction to these allegations”.
The head of the Dutch Football Association, Michael van Praag, told Blatter “you should not run anymore”.
But Blatter appears to have solid backing from Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
“You see a mission is never finished,” continued Blatter in his video address.
“And my mission is not finished.
“I got through the last Congress in São Paulo not only the impression but the support of the majority, a huge majority of national associations asking: ‘Please go on, be our President also in future’.”
So far, only former FIFA administrator Jérôme Champagne has officially declared his candidacy ahead of the 2015 elections.
But the Frenchman has already made it clear he will drop out of the running should his former boss choose to run again.
Candidates must declare their intention to stand by January, with elections set to take place at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29.
Meanwhile, Blatter also suggested today that a television replay system allowing coaches to challenge a refereeing decision could be trialled as early as next year’s FIFA Under-20 World Cup, due to take place in New Zealand from May 30 to June 20.
Blatter said he would like to see coaches being allowed at least one challenge per half.
“Then there must be a monitor by the television company, then the referee and coach look at it and the referee may then change his mind as is the case in tennis, for instance,” he added.
“It can only be done where there is television coverage of all the matches, or in one of FIFA’s competitions.
“We can try a youth competition, an Under-20 like next year we are in New Zealand so we could test such a ‘challenge calls’.”
Blatter had been an opponent of using goal-line technology before FIFA finally introduced it at this year’s World Cup in Brazil after successful trials at the Club World Cup and last year’s Confederations Cup.
This article first appeared in Inside the Games and has been reproduced with permission. The original article can be viewed by clicking here.