Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 30th 2013 Contents GENEVA---Despite recent skepti-
cism from his own anti-corruption
advisers, Sepp Blatter says Fifa can
be a model of good sports leader-
Yesterday, Fifa published the busi-
ness agenda for next month s con-
gress, where the football body hopes
to finalise modernising changes
promised by Blatter two years ago
following damaging allegations of
bribery and vote buying.
"I look forward to further impor-
tant decisions being passed at the
Congress in 2013 to complete the
reform process," the Fifa president
wrote about the May 31 meeting in
Mauritius, pledging it would "bring
Fifa up to the highest standards of
good governance, as befits an organ-
isation such as ours, which plays
such a fundamental role in society."
Fifa will be monitored in Mauri-
tius---and beyond---by an independ-
ent advisory panel which lost a key
member last week. Alexandra Wrage,
a Canadian anti-bribery compliance
expert, left after citing frustrations
that best-practice proposals were
"neutered" or ignored by Fifa.
Football matters will compete for
attention with political issues.
Australian football officials want
to relax residency rules which restrict
when youngsters are eligible to
change national team allegiance. A
similar proposal was rejected at the
turbulent 2011 Congress---where
Blatter was re-elected unopposed---
as a potential route for richer coun-
tries to import overseas players with
fast-track citizenship. See Page A61
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
MILAN---Inter Milan captain Javier
Zanetti says he would like to play again
despite a potentially career-ending
Zanetti ruptured his left Achilles ten-
don in Sunday s 1-0 loss to Palermo and
is likely to be out for six months.
The defender turns 40 in August but
says "after a career like mine, I d like to
play at least one more game in front of
my fans, and I hope it s more than one."
Zanetti joined Inter in 1995 from
Argentine club Banfield and has made
more than 800 appearances for the Italian
side. The former Argentina international
has helped Inter to a host of trophies,
including five league titles, four Italian
Cups and the 2010 Champions League.
Zanetti s contract with Inter expires
at the end of the season. (AP)
Zanetti hopes for 'one more game'
...Seeks high reform standards
GENEVA---Borrowing a favourite
Sepp Blatter phrase, he seems a
happy Fifa president.
Blatter will attend the Asian Foot-
ball Confederation elections this
week in Malaysia and his endorse-
ment is eagerly sought by candidates
to replace deposed former rival
Mohamed bin Hammam as presi-
dent and Fifa executive committee
Counting down to Fifa s next lead-
ership contest in 2015, the veteran
Swiss official already appears the
strongest candidate to extend a reign
that will reach 17 years by election
No matter that Blatter promised
before winning his current fourth
term that it was definitely his last.
"You know very well that I will
aspire to another four years," Blatter
told European football leaders in
March 2011 at the opulent Grand
Palais in Paris.
That was then, and he was facing
a tough election fight against bin
No matter that allegations of cor-
ruption still swirl around Fifa and
some past and present members of
its discredited ruling board. The 12-
year-old scandal of bankrupted
World Cup marketing agency ISL
could flare again this week but has
never fulfilled some critics belief it
could topple Blatter.
Now 77, Blatter has hinted in
interviews that his health is good
and he could try to stay on.
He then chose another football
election meeting this month in Pana-
ma to suggest an issue demanding
his future presidential attention---
reorganizing the power balance
between Fifa s six confederations.
Visiting those continental bodies,
whose members elect the Fifa pres-
ident, is required by protocol for
Blatter and other leaders like Uefa
president Michel Platini, who will
also be in Kuala Lumpur this week.
It is also where future votes are
nurtured, raising talk of changing
quotas for World Cup places and
Fifa executive seats in favour of
In Panama, Blatter told the North,
Central America and the Caribbean
body, known as Concacaf, that it
could push for a guaranteed fourth
slot in the 32-team World Cup.
Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb---
praised by Blatter as "an intelligent
man and courageous"---had earlier
used an interview with the Associ-
ated Press to urge shaking up how
influence was traditionally allocated
in world football.
"What was created (109) years
ago does not necessarily reflect the
realities, and I don t think is relevant
to today s world," Webb said at Fifa
headquarters last month, careful not
to risk offending Uefa and South
American confederation Conmebol
by citing their names.
Webb suggested that Blatter s
modernizing reforms had missed a
chance to go deeper. So the mission
could continue, and the Confeder-
ation of African Football is on record
wanting a sixth guaranteed World
That this possible agenda would
inevitably challenge European foot-
ball --- and Platini, the widely touted
potential successor in 2015---is per-
haps just happy coincidence.
Blatter weighing up a fifth term
would surprise few Fifa watchers,
who see an expert working the angles
of football politics just as Platini the
player mastered the game itself.
European football is home to the
wealthiest clubs and best players,
but Blatter and predecessor Joao
Havelange have shown that the old
continent s support is not the key
to Fifa elections.
Uefa and Conmebol could com-
bine to have 19 of 32 World Cup
teams in Brazil next year, yet they
total just 63 of 209 votes in the next
Fifa presidential election.
Commentators have long ques-
tioned if Blatter, who has devoted
himself to Fifa since 1975, would ever
The prospect of him being forced
out---floated in 2011 amid chaotic
fallout from the 2018 and 2022 World
Cup votes, and his own re-election---
has dwindled. Even as a stream of
one-time loyal colleagues quit or
Jack Warner, Ricardo Teixeira,
Chuck Blazer and Nicolas Leoz have
followed bin Hammam as members
of the board Blatter inherited in 1998
who left under a cloud of suspicion.
"All the rotten apples dropping
out of the ExCo," Fifa adviser Mark
Pieth described it to the AP in a
Each time, Blatter has hardly been
directly touched and Fifa is today
less tainted by association with its
murky recent past.
Post-Warner, Concacaf and Webb
are building new ties to Blatter and
hope to host the 2026 World Cup
for the first time since the US staged
the 1994 tournament.
That hosting decision could fall
during the 2015-19 Fifa presidential
term---perhaps the first for Platini,
Webb, current Fifa secretary general
Jerome Valcke or Asia s Fifa vice
president, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein
Or it could fall during Blatter s
fifth term. (AP)
Despite swirling corruption issues...
Blatter secure as Fifa captain
Concacaf president Jeffrey Webb, left, holds the trophy as Fifa president Joseph Sepp Blatter gathers with
Mexico's players after they won the Concacaf Under-17 men's soccer championship in Panama City, on April 19.
Blatter is currently campaigning for another term at the helm of Fifa. AP PHOTO
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