Confident Blatter wins South American backing
Asuncion: Sepp Blatter said he was fully confident of winning another four-year term as FIFA president as he secured the backing of South America`s soccer chiefs on the campaign trail on Friday.
"Sure, I`m confident. I don`t need to make a lot of promises," said Blatter, who faces opposition from Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam in the June 1 FIFA presidential election.
"I`m not interested in what he is doing. I have my programme, it`s 36 years I`ve been serving FIFA," he said in an interview with Reuters at the Paraguay headquarters of the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol).
"(Bin Hammam) came into the FIFA executive committee in 1996, so he was part of the construction of today`s FIFA. You need to ask him why he wants to change that construction," the 75-year-old added.
The Swiss was certain he could count on the support of Conmebol despite his recent criticism of the preparations for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil.
"It was Conmebol that already in January or February 1998 made a declaration that the 10 countries of Conmebol were fully behind Sepp Blatter," Blatter said, looking back to his election that year in succession to Brazilian Joao Havelange.
"Therefore, I`m fully confident that they are still in the same mood. I don`t know why they shouldn`t be."
His confidence was justified when Conmebol, who will re-elect their Paraguayan president Nicolas Leoz unopposed for another term on Sunday, announced their official support for Blatter on Friday night.
"South America is unanimously and resoundingly committed to supporting the candidacy of Joseph Blatter for another period as president of FIFA, there`s no doubt in this regard," Argentina soccer chief Julio Grondona told the Conmebol executive board.
"That`s how we started in 1998 and that`s how we want to continue for the good of world football."
Blatter said he wanted another term in which to finish what he has called his "mission in football".
"We want to be a little more (influential) in our society ... in education. What is education in our game? It is discipline, respect, fighting spirit and fair play," he said.
Blatter said he wanted to "go away by the big door and not go out by the back door".
Despite his recent reprimand, Blatter expressed his confidence that Brazil would stage a great World Cup in 2014.
"They needed a little bit of a wake-up call and now they are working hard," Blatter said. "I`m sure Brazil 2014 will be a great, great moment in international football because Brazil is the country of football.
"I do hope I will be in shape and in position to attend this great event in Brazil."
Blatter had been concerned about delays in work on stadiums, particularly in the major World Cup venues in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
He was concerned, for instance, about the giant Maracana in Rio being ready by June 2013 for the Confederations Cup, which serves as a dress rehearsal for the finals a year later.