Fifa Vote on Feb 26

A clearly unimpressed Fifa president Sepp Blatter looking at fake dollar bills flying around him during a press conference at the football world body's headquarters in Zurich. The notes were thrown by a protester.
A clearly unimpressed Fifa president Sepp Blatter looking at fake dollar bills flying around him during a press conference at the football world body's headquarters in Zurich. The notes were thrown by a protester.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Simon Brodkin, British comedian, alluding to buying votes for the Stalinist state to secure the 2026 World Cup
Simon Brodkin, British comedian, alluding to buying votes for the Stalinist state to secure the 2026 World CupPHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Blatter reveals it will vote for a new president then and pledges again to step down

ZURICH • Sepp Blatter says he will not be a candidate for the Fifa presidential election to be held in February, and has bizarrely claimed he will become a radio journalist once his successor is voted in.

Football's governing body (Fifa) yesterday announced that a new president will be elected on Feb 26, in a vote triggered by Blatter's decision seven weeks ago to step down amid allegations of corruption within the organisation.

The Swiss spoke during a press conference at Fifa headquarters in Zurich, but only after an initial delay caused by a prankster - comedian Simon Brodkin - invading the stage and throwing bank notes over the president.

Asked about suggestions that he could stand again for the position he apparently "resigned" from on June 2, four days after being elected for a fifth term, Blatter, 79, replied that he "categorically" will not seek re-election.

"I will not be a candidate for the election in 2016... there will be an election for a new president. I cannot be a new president because I am an old president," the Swiss said, suggesting that he had not resigned and was committed to staying in the post until the election.

PRANK BID

This is for North Korea, 2026.

SIMON BRODKIN, British comedian, alluding to buying votes for the Stalinist state to secure the 2026 World Cup

NO SURRENDER

My mission is to make sure... we have come to the end of my reforms and that we have rebuilt the reputation of Fifa. I would never resign. If I did, my father would come and kick me.

SEPP BLATTER, on staying on till Feb 26

On May 27, just two days before he was re-elected, seven Fifa officials were arrested in a dawn raid after an United States-led investigation into corruption in football. A week later, he suddenly and surprisingly said he would step aside.

"Sometimes I have the impression that after, let's say, this tsunami on the 27th of May came to Zurich that the waves on the tsunami have taken me away. Not at all, I am still here," he told the assembled press yesterday.

"In footballing terms, I would say I kicked the ball out of the field to stop something. And this is what I did on the second of June. (By saying) that I would put my mandate at the disposal. But I am still the elected president and I speak to you as the elected president."

In a bizarre, increasingly eccentric performance - the first time Blatter has faced the media since he stood down - he went on to reveal more about his career aspirations.

"On the 26th of February, Fifa will have a new president and I think I will come back to my work, it was a little bit my hobby, as a journalist," he said. "But this time I will go to radio because radio is the most popular form of information... It is easier to speak than write."

Earlier, Fifa had confirmed the date of the vote, while also announcing the formation of a new Fifa taskforce called Reforms, an 11-strong body to be fronted by an independent chairman. Its role will be to look at issues including the introduction of term limits for future presidents (likely to be three terms, while Blatter is on his fifth) and "enhanced integrity checks" for executive committee members.

The vote for the new president will take place at an "extraordinary elective congress" involving all 209 member associations .

Candidates have until Oct 26 to put their names forward. So far, only Brazilian football great Zico has officially declared himself a candidate. But European governing body Uefa's president Michel Platini is considered the favourite to take over if he decides to stand.

Platini, 60, will decide in the next two weeks whether to run. The Frenchman has the verbal support from four of the six Fifa regional confederations. Only the African confederation - led by Blatter ally Issa Hayatou - and the Oceania confederation are not backing him.

Asked why he has chosen to keep going until next February, Blatter replied: "My mission is to make sure at the end of February, that I can say we have come to the end of my reforms and that we have rebuilt the reputation of Fifa. I would never resign. If I did, my father would come and kick me."

The press conference began late after Brodkin, armed with a wad of bank notes, approached a seated Blatter, saying "This is for North Korea, 2026". A concerned-looking Blatter asked, "Where is my security?", before the comedian threw a wad of notes at the president as he was led away.

THE TIMES, LONDON,

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2015, with the headline 'Fifa Vote on Feb 26'. Print Edition | Subscribe