Blatter urged not to run for FIFA presidency

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FIFA President Sepp Blatter looks on during a press conference where he talked about the organization and infrastructure of the upcoming World Cup, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 5, 2014. The World Cup soccer tournament starts on 12 June. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter looks on during a press conference where he talked about the organization and infrastructure of the upcoming World Cup, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 5, 2014. The World Cup soccer tournament starts on 12 June. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

FIFA President Sepp Blatter speaks, as Brazil’s Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo, center, looks on, during a press conference, where they talked about the organization and infrastructure of the upcoming World Cup, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday, June 5, 2014. The World Cup soccer tournament starts on 12 June. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

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SAO PAULO (AP) — European football leaders told FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Tuesday he should leave office next year.

Blatter faced a hostile UEFA membership which bucked the trend of overwhelming support from FIFA’s other five continents, who urged the 78-year-old Swiss this week to run for a fifth presidential term next year — despite a slew of scandals and negative headlines under his leadership.

UEFA executive committee member Michael van Praag and English Football Association President Greg Dyke directly challenged Blatter not to stand again during a closed-door meeting of Europe’s 54 football nations — described by one delegate as “a grilling.”

“People link FIFA to corruption and bribery and all kinds of old boy’s networks,” Van Praag told reporters later.

“FIFA has an executive president and that means you are responsible,” the Netherlands federation president said he told Blatter. “People tend not to take you very seriously anymore.”

Van Praag insisted it was not a personal attack and deflected questions on whether he could be proposed by UEFA as a candidate against Blatter.

UEFA members reminded Blatter he promised them in March 2011 that his current four-year term would be his last.

UEFA board members lined up later to list grievances with Blatter, including his handling of Qatar 2022 World Cup issues and criticism of European media for reporting allegations of corruption at FIFA.

In meetings with Asian and African delegates on Monday, Blatter blamed European media and suggested racism was a factor in their reporting of that controversy.

“Greg Dyke pointed out it was unacceptable what he said yesterday,” German football president Wolfgang Niersbach said.

Niersbach dismissed speculation he might be proposed by UEFA as a candidate against Blatter next year.

UEFA President Michel Platini, long seen as Blatter’s likely successor, is expected to decide in September if he will challenge his former mentor.

Associated Press

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