FIFA president Sepp Blatter goes back on the offensive tomorrow with a hard-hitting endorsement of the way he has run world football’s governing body over the last four years.
The beleaguered boss will speak at the Soccerex football conference in Dubai in his latest vote-grabbing initiative ahead of the FIFA election on May 29.
After weeks of being besieged by allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement, Blatter won significant support in his battle for the presidency with Issa Hayatou, of Cameroon, from last week’s UEFA Congress in Stockholm.
With Hayatou unable to attend tomorrow’s Dubai trade show, Blatter looks set to score another public relations victory.
Rashid Al Kamali, the United Arab Emirates’ FA’s marketing chief, said the Arab and Gulf states will back Blatter.
Kamali told The Express: « He’s done a lot more for soccer round the world than Hayatou.
« We know all about the rumours concerning Blatter but no one has solid proof. You can’t just accuse people without the evidence. »
Blatter is strong favourite despite bitter divisions within FIFA.
It’s a blow for UEFA president Lennart Johansson, who considers him Europe’s enemy.
Johansson wanted Europe to unite behind Hayatou but that looks a lost cause unless Blatter is found responsible for a string of financial mismanagement allegations.
In Zurich on Friday Blatter’s right-hand man, Michel zen Ruffinen, has pledged to reveal delicate details of FIFA’s true financial position.
He is furious at Blatter’s decision to suspend the official investigation into FIFA’s financial affairs for fear of a major scandal exploding just before the election.
(c) Copyright Express Newspapers 2002.