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SPORTS
08 Mar 2011
FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION READY TO SEEK A CHANGE AT THE TOP OF FIFA

The Football Association will support any challenger to Sepp Blatter in the forthcoming Fifa presidential election, it was claimed on Monday.

Agency reports cited two senior officials at the FA who said Fifa’s treatment of England’s failed 2018 World Cup bid meant they could no longer support Blatter.

The Press Association reported that anger at England’s treatment has convinced FA chiefs that it is time for a change at the top of Fifa.

The FA will even consider writing to Mohamed bin Hammam, the Qatari president of the Asian Football Confederation, urging him to stand against Blatter.

One board member told the Press Association: “We think three terms is enough. We would consider contacting him [Hammam] to offer our support.”

The FA’s lack of support for Blatter comes as no surprise but the publication of the organisation’s opposition to the Fifa president is potentially damaging, particularly if no candidate steps forward to challenge the president.

The explosion of resentment towards Fifa and Blatter was sparked by England’s 2018 World Cup bid defeat in December.

The FA’s acting chairman, Roger Burden, withdrew his candidacy to be permanent chairman because he “could not trust” Fifa.

Until now the only other football federation to express a reported opinion on Blatter was the Somali FA, which has nominated him for a fourth term in office.

The opinions are understood to have been expressed during the International Football Association Board meeting in Newport at the weekend, where Blatter spent time with FA officials.

With less than a month to go until nominations for the presidency close on April 1 it is far from certain that Hammam or anyone else will challenge Blatter, and the FA would be exposed if no one steps forward.

If that were the case it would deal a blow to new chairman David Bernstein’s policy of building bridges internationally following the humiliation of Zurich.

That said, the FA has little to lose given its manifest lack of influence of friends around the Fifa executive committee table.

An FA spokesman said: “The matter has not been discussed but will be considered by the FA board when nominations have closed and the FIFA congress agenda has been published.”

Hammam, 61, a former ally of Blatter, has been dropping hints for several months that he might stand against the 75 year-old but he wants to ensure that he has a real chance of victory before confirming his candidature.

Blatter has built up a strong power base within the 204 national associations who make up Fifa and would be difficult to unseat.

Blatter himself said “the race is open” and admitted Fifa needed to communicate better.

He said last weekend: “We are now in an elected process [June 1, Zurich] and the race is open. I have received support from different national associations to stand again.”

Source : telegrapgh.co.uk

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