Sepp Blatter Rejects UEFA Congress Offer

(ATR) The FIFA chief snubs an offer to present his manifesto to football associations gathered at the UEFA Congress.

NYON, SWITZERLAND - JULY 18:  The UEFA logo is seen on the UEFA Champions League trophy as it is prepared for the UEFA 2014/15 Champions League third qualifying rounds draw at the UEFA headquarters, The House of European Football, on July 18, 2014 in Nyon, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images for UEFA)
NYON, SWITZERLAND - JULY 18: The UEFA logo is seen on the UEFA Champions League trophy as it is prepared for the UEFA 2014/15 Champions League third qualifying rounds draw at the UEFA headquarters, The House of European Football, on July 18, 2014 in Nyon, Switzerland. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images for UEFA)

(ATR) FIFA president Sepp Blatter today snubbed an offer to present his manifesto to the 54 football associations gathered at the UEFA Congress in Vienna on Tuesday.

As Around the Rings reported last week, the 79-year-old and the three challengers to his FIFA throne were to be given 15-minute slots to present their visions.

But the Swiss rejected the opportunity to take the stage with his rivals, having said on Friday that he didn't need a manifesto because his record spoke for itself.

"My manifesto is the work I have done in the last years in FIFA," he told a press conference wrapping up a two-day FIFA Executive Committee meeting on Friday. "I am 40 years in FIFA and I am 17 years as president, this is my manifesto."

However, Blatter will make a speech to the congress in his capacity as head of world football and is expected to highlight his achievements and, perhaps, the rise in World Cup revenues that are now flowing into the coffers of the world’s football federations - among the 209 FAs who will cast their votes in the FIFA presidential election.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino revealed to reporters after an executive committee meeting in Vienna that Blatter had declined the chance to present his manifesto to UEFA delegates.

"We proposed to him, as well as to the other three candidates, to take the floor at our congress and tell our members what they wanted to tell them," he was quoted by Reuters.

"But Mr Blatter has decided that he is going to speak only as FIFA president and not as one of the candidates. The associations can decide for themselves whether they think President Blatter has shown them a lack of respect."

Blatter will face his most hostile audience in the FIFA race on Tuesday; the stormy congress on the eve of the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo underlined how much the U-turn on his pledge to stand down this year has turned many European associations against him.

Dutch FA president Michael van Praaag, who slammed Blatter’s leadership at that congress and is now seeking to depose Blatter, said in Vienna that he was "very disappointed" the FIFA chief was also rejecting the chance to take part in a live TV debate with the other candidates. Outgoing FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan and former Portugal great Luis Figo are also bidding to oust the Swiss.

With only two months until the May 29 FIFA presidential election, Blatter remains strong favorite to retain his leadership of the federation and a fifth term in office, despite the wave of FIFA corruption scandals in recent years that have brought FIFA to its lowest ebb and tainted his reputation.

Earlier today, UEFA president Michel Platini defended Europe’s quota of 13 World Cup finalists, and even called for an additional place because of European nation’s strong showing at recent World Cups.

Blatter has in recent months floated the idea of reducing Europe’s World Cup berths to benefit other confederations. And on May 30, FIFA’s new-look Exco, featuring several new faces which are expected to include Asian sports powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad, will meet to hammer out how many World Cup qualifying slots each of the six confederations will get for Russia 2018.

Platini told Austria’s APA news agency that Europe "would deserve another place if you look at the strength of our teams and the excellent results of the last World Cups".

The 59-year-old, who is unopposed for a third four-year term as UEFA chief, will be re-elected at the Vienna congress on Tuesday.

Reported byMark Bisson

Photo: Getty Images

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