Sunday 17 December 2017

Blatter rivals have 'no chance'

Sepp Blatter
Sepp Blatter

It is 17 years since Lennart Johansson lost an acrimonious FIFA presidential election to Sepp Blatter and he has a stark message to the three men standing against his old foe - you have no chance.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Dutch FA president Michael van Praag and former Portugal international Luis Figo are attempting to unseat Blatter from the position he has held since he beat Johansson by 111 to 80 votes in Paris in 1998.

But Johansson, 85, does not think the trio have any hope of winning and is upset that the man he wanted to run for FIFA president - his successor as UEFA president Michel Platini - ignored his advice to challenge the 79-year-old Swiss who is standing for a fifth term of office.

There is little love lost between himself and Blatter, but Johansson cannot see the president losing the election in Zurich on May 29.

"Blatter will win in the first round, but I can't give you the figures," the Swede said.

"He knows how to do it, he knows which way to go, how to handle things.

"I am not surprised he has remained president since 1998, he is an extremely intelligent man. Of course, it depends on how you use your intelligence.

"But he is smart and a very hard worker. I could call him at 7.30 in the morning and he would be working."

Asked what his relationship is like with Blatter now, or whether the old battle scars have healed, he replied "No. He doesn't even say hello when we meet now. He avoids me.

"I sit on the first row as an honorary vice-president of FIFA and the honorary president of UEFA and he is sitting next to me ... but he doesn't "see" me.

"But I don't approach him. I see no reason to."

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