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October 21, 2009

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Blatter to contest FIFA polls in 2011

FIFA president Sepp Blatter will run for re-election in 2011, saying yesterday he still wants to introduce new initiatives to develop football worldwide.

"I have not finished my mission in football. I need more time," Blatter told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I hope that in 2011 the FIFA Congress once more has faith in me, otherwise I'll go back to my village."

The 73-year-old Swiss was elected president of FIFA in 1998, and then survived corruptions accusations to win the 2002 election.

He was elected unopposed for a third time in 2007.

Blatter did not formally declare his candidacy to his 23 colleagues on FIFA's ruling executive committee when they met in Rio de Janeiro three weeks ago.

"There was no announcement. But it's not a surprise," FIFA executive member Marios Lefkaritis from Cyprus said. "We are talking about the presidency of FIFA and the (election) congress is only 18 months from now. A candidate should announce or make his intentions known."

Lefkaritis, who represents UEFA at FIFA, said Blatter presided over a successful annual congress in the Bahamas last June.

"For seven years I think everything has been harmonized," Lefkaritis said. "It has been a long, long time since there was aggressive behavior."

FIFA's next congress will be held on June 10-11 in Johannesburg on the eve of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Candidates can be nominated by any of FIFA's 208 national member associations, and must be proposed in writing at least two months before the congress. The winning candidate must achieve two-thirds of valid votes recorded in the first round of a secret ballot, or a simple majority in subsequent rounds.

Blatter also said that FIFA was wrong to seed the European World Cup playoff matches.

FIFA was criticized for announcing only a few weeks ago that the eight playoff teams from Europe would be seeded.

Ireland coach Giovanni Trappatoni claimed it was a way of ensuring that the more powerful teams, such as France and Portugal, were given an easier chance of reaching next year's tournament in South Africa. Ireland drew France for the two-leg playoff next month.

"He's right. We should have announced it from the start," Blatter said. "There is something in the rules, but it isn't clear. If we learn, we'll change for 2014, but in 180 minutes anything is possible."

Blatter also said that FIFA wouldn't enforce a salary cap on teams, but continued to call on club presidents to curb their spending.

He said FIFA would continue to try to enforce the 6+5 system of six domestic players alongside five non-nationals per team, despite it contravening European Union work rules.


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