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SBD Global/August 29, 2014/Leagues and Governing Bodies

UEFA President Michel Platini Will Not Challenge Sepp Blatter For FIFA Presidency

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UEFA President Michel Platini "will not take on" FIFA President Sepp Blatter for the leadership of FIFA, according to the BBC. The 59-year-old former France player "had considered running as a candidate in next year's presidential election." But he told a meeting of 54 European football associations in Monte Carlo on Thursday that "he wants to concentrate on leading the European administrative body instead." He said on Thursday that "he will now push for Europe to be allocated more World Cup places" -- from 13 to 15 -- for Russia 2018. Following his decision, Platini said, "What matters here is not me or my feelings. What matters is the future of UEFA, and of football." FIFA Exec Committee Member Michel D'Hooghe said of Platini's latest stance, "It was a very positive message -- he said he would like to continue as UEFA president and I am pleased that it means that this time there will be no battle between FIFA and UEFA" (BBC, 8/28). In London, Ben Rumsby wrote Platini immediately denied he was "afraid" of entering an unwinnable contest. He said, "In 2007, I ran against Lennart Johansson, the standing [UEFA] president. It wasn’t a mean feat to beat him. I can’t be accused of being afraid of Mr. Blatter, because I proved my stuff in 2007." He also said that no decision had been taken on whether UEFA would put up another candidate next year, "amid concerns Blatter could run without credible opposition for the second successive election." Platini "is still seething at his former ally’s reneging on a promise that the current term would be his last and the Frenchman publicly withdrew his backing for the 78-year-old just before the World Cup." Platini promised to fight Blatter’s plan "to cut Europe’s 13 places at the World Cup finals." He said, "I have no intention of losing one place, one seat at the World Cup. But I have the intention to ask for one more, because we are world champion" (TELEGRAPH, 8/28).

NO VIABLE CHALLENGER: ESPN's Gabriele Marcotti wrote Platini's decision almost certainly means Blatter "will run the world game for another four years, right through his 83rd birthday." The supposition "had been that Platini would stand against Blatter if he believed he had a chance of defeating him." The fact that he will, instead, seek another term at the helm of UEFA suggests "Blatter's grip on FIFA and the bulk of its 209 member nations is as strong as ever." The problem is that "someone" either does not exist or, like Platini, is not "coming forward to challenge Blatter." Further, if he or she did, it is "hard to see how he or she could win, given the current FIFA boss' stranglehold, particularly among certain confederations" (ESPN, 8/28). BLOOMBERG's Tariq Panja wrote Platini’s withdrawal leaves former FIFA Deputy Secretary-General Jerome Champagne "as the only declared challenger." Platini, who is on FIFA’s exec committee, called on the panel’s members to challenge Blatter more in future rather than be "lambs that always say yes." Platini: "They must not always let Mr. Blatter be omnipresent and omnipotent. The executive committee needs to find its courage to be a counterbalance to Mr. Blatter" (BLOOMBERG, 8/28).
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