ULRICHEN Switzerland (Reuters) - Sepp Blatter wants his detractors to stand up and take him on in a FIFA presidential election rather than just criticise him, the FIFA president said on Saturday.
“If I were not criticised, I would not have any value,” the Swiss, who is in his fourth mandate after first being elected in 1998, told reporters. "People who say I should not be a candidate or I should not get elected, they can take the risk to be in an election. I took the risk in 1998.”
“If you never take the risk, you will never have a chance. But if you take the risk you also have the chance to lose,” added Blatter, speaking at the annual football tournament he organises in a small Alpine village in his home canton of Valais.
“Now I say, if (other people) want to take the risk then take the risk. Don’t speak, go out and fight, then you will see. That is good. I am happy to fight. I am a fighter.” Blatter’s words appeared to be aimed at UEFA president Michel Platini who is seen as a possible rival to Blatter, although the Frenchman has yet to decide whether he will enter the race. Blatter is seen as almost certain to run for what would be a fifth term in next year’s election although he has not made any official announcement.
"I will not announce for the time being that I am a candidate, I am not in a hurry, I have until the end of January next year," he said.
Blatter also suggested that five-times World Cup winners Brazil needed FIFA development programmes just like other countries, following their debacle at the World Cup where they lost 7-1 to Germany in the semi-finals.
Blatter said that when former FIFA president Joao Havelange introduced development programmes, he said that 'there are some nations, they don’t need development programmes, especially in Brazil.'
"Everybody needs development programmes. Brazil has never had a project from FIFA because they were too big for that and I think that was a mistake," said Blatter.
Blatter also added that FIFA had to help African teams to stop them being plagued by rows over payment during the World Cup.
The players of Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria were all involved in disputes with their federations during the course of this year's tournament in Brazil.
"Players don’t trust their federations and that is why they are fighting," he said. "They are professionals they want to play for money.
"This is something which is a specific question now for Africa. How can we help them? It is by saying to these federations they must arrange at the beginning of the competition what will happen with the money."
(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Tim Collings)