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BLATTER SEPPS UP: NEW FIFA PRESIDENT TO STAY THE COURSE
Published June 9, 1998
Sepp Blatter "became the most powerful man in international soccer Monday when he was named president of FIFA, succeeding the retiring Joao Havelange," according to Mike Penner of the L.A. TIMES. Both Blatter and his opponent, European Soccer Union President Lennart Johansson, "failed to garner enough votes on the first ballot," but Blatter was elected after Johansson withdrew before the second ballot. Penner writes that Blatter's victory is "seen as a triumph for Havelange, a longtime rival of Johansson," while the "bitter campaign" between the two was "expensive," with the candidates reportedly spending more than $1M combined. Penner: "Blatter, like his predecessor, is a controversial figure in world soccer. He has proposed sometimes radical changes in the sport." But Penner adds that the victory "could benefit U.S. soccer." Blatter was "very impressed" by the '94 World Cup and "one of his chief supporters" was U.S. Soccer Federation President Alan Rothenberg (L.A. TIMES, 6/9). NEWSDAY's Jerry Trecker writes that Rothenberg is "expected to gain additional international power and prestige" with the vote (NEWSDAY, 6/9). In N.Y., Jere Longman writes that "some believe" Blatter's win could increase the chances of the U.S. hosting another Cup, "perhaps as early as 2010" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/9). Blatter: "I believe in the U.S. I believe the kids of the U.S. represent its true future" (USA TODAY, 6/9). BLATTER'S CONTROL: Blatter said he would "not deviate much from the path that Havelange created in making the World Cup the world's most widely viewed sporting event." Blatter: "I am for continuity." Johansson called Blatter a "puppet of Havelange's" and he campaigned for a "more open, democratic and 'clean' federation." In N.Y., Jere Longman reports that Johansson did "not receive as many votes as he had expected from Africa" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/9). In DC, Anne Swardson reports that once the head of the African federation freed his members to "vote as they wished, the way was clear for Blatter" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/9). THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE: Johansson had said earlier that FIFA officials had been distributing envelopes containing $50,000 in cash "to officials of some national federations," but he refused to say that was a reason for his defeat (WASHINGTON POST, 6/9). Blatter did not deny the distribution of $50,000 in envelopes, but said "they were cash pre-payments of previously agreed-to disbursements to national federations" (INT'L HERALD TRIBUNE, 6/9).