FIFA president Sepp Blatter (picture) acknowledged Thursday there is opposition to his bid for a fourth term at the helm of world soccer, but insists he wants more time to strengthen the sport.
In an unannounced visit to journalists at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Blatter said he expected multiple challengers when he seeks re-election in June 2011. But he vowed to push on with his own candidacy.
"Now it is obvious there will be candidates for the FIFA presidency in 2011 -- a candidate from Asia," the 73-year-old Swiss native said.
"I have not changed my position," said Blatter, the world football body's president since 1998. "I am still here, and I hope to still be here in 2011. I have not now finished my mission, and if the Congress will decide so, I will be at their disposal."
Although he didn't mention any rival by name, he appeared to be reacting to the threat posed by Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar, who as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief could mount a credible challenge to Blatter.
Hammam's candidacy -- or one promoted by him -- would seriously jeopardize Blatter's 12-year leadership of FIFA during which the organization has successfully recovered from a crisis caused by the collapse of its marketing partner earlier this decade. With its finances booming, Blatter won a third term without opposition in 2007. - TS.