“Only one person can beat Blatter,” says French legend.
UEFA president Michel Platini says he is the only person capable of stopping Sepp Blatter in next year’s FIFA presidential election.
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The French football legend is yet to confirm whether he will stand against the 78-year-old Swiss, who has been in office since 1998.
“Only one person can beat Blatter,” Platini said at UEFA congress in Astana (quotes from Reuters).
When pressed on whether he was that person, Platini answered “yes”.
Like Platini, Blatter has not officially said whether he will stand for a new term but is widely expected to announce his candidacy around the World Cup finals this year.
Platini told the UEFA Congress he would have more meetings with European football leaders in coming months before announcing whether he would stand for FIFA.
The 58-year-old UEFA president said it would be a “personal” decision but that he would consult widely.
“I will give my answer after the World Cup. There will be a series of meetings with European federation officials. Maybe 99% of them will say ‘we prefer that you stay at UEFA’, that could also be an element of reflection” in the decision, Platini said.
Meanwhile, the Frenchman earlier blasted the world federation’s lack of action over secretive companies owning players as he stepped up a war of nerves with Blatter.
Platini said the so-called ‘third party ownership’ of players is a “danger” to football.
He called on FIFA to impose a global ban on the practice and praised the English Football Association for being the first to act against the secretive companies which control many top players.
With Blatter sat prominently in the audience at the UEFA Congress, Platini said: “If FIFA fails to act, we will address this issue in our own competitions in Europe.
“The UEFA executive committee has already adopted a position on this issue in principle, and we will see this through.
“I do not want to be complicit in these practices, and at the moment I have the nasty feeling that I am.”
Platini said that as a player he had taken strike action because clubs had too much control of players.
“Today, players are certainly not the property of their clubs, but something worse is happening instead.
“Increasingly, players owned by opaque companies based in tax havens and controlled by some unknown agent or investment fund.
“Quite simply, some players are no longer in control of their own sporting careers and are transferred each year to generate revenue for anonymous individuals who just want to get their hands on some of the money in football.”
Platini then made a direct challenge to the FIFA leader who he earlier called “a dear friend”.
“I want to take advantage of your presence here today to make a solemn request: please have the political courage to deal with this problem once and for all.
“There comes a time when you have to stop hiding behind committees, sub-committees, studies by expert groups and academic reports.
“The amount of money that vanishes into thin air in a single transfer exceeds the entire annual budget for your global solidarity programme.”
The UEFA boss said this was not “normal”.
Blatter also addressed Platini as his “dear friend” and said in his speech that FIFA and UEFA should work together on player agents and third party ownership.
FIFA has set up two studies on what Blatter called the “complex topic” of businesses owning player rights.
Platini said he would decide later in the year whether to seek the FIFA presidency. UEFA and FIFA are to hold leadership elections in 2015.
Platini told the European federation’s congress he would hold talks with individual member countries in the coming months before deciding his future plans.
FIFA and UEFA are to hold leadership elections in 2015. Blatter, 78, has not formally announced whether he will stand again but has said he will do so if asked by member nations.
Referring to the elections, Platini said “as these concern you (member countries) first and foremost, we will discuss them all together at (executive) meetings after the summer.
“I will be there to listen to you, as usual, and we can then take decisions together, as we always do.”
Blatter is expected to announce his decision at the FIFA Congress in Rio de Janeiro in June just ahead of the start of the World Cup finals.