ULRICHEN, Switzerland,(Reuters) - Scandal-hit FIFA can never be dominated by one continent, outgoing president Sepp Blatter said on Saturday.
Without going into details or naming anyone, Blatter said that in the past one continental federation had tried to exert a dominance over the others, using proposed reforms as an attempt to grab the presidency.
“This is the key point which has (taken place) in the past years ... the takeover of one confederation towards the others,” he told a news conference. “But this cannot work in FIFA.”
Blatter did not make clear whether that meant it would never happen or that soccer’s governing body would not survive if it did occur.
He then added: “This was a movement, this was a movement to get back the presidency”.
That remark may have referred to proposals drafted by European soccer’s ruling body UEFA in the mid-1990s for a radical reform of FIFA, which at the time was run by Brazilian Joao Havelange who had been in charge since 1974.
Amid bitter criticism of Havelange, UEFA produced documents known as Vision 1 and Vision 2 with proposals that included rotating FIFA’s presidency. Blatter’s comments came amid an increasing rift between FIFA and UEFA.
Almost all of Europe’s national associations voted against the Swiss when he was re-elected for a fifth term at the FIFA Congress on May 29.
He won the election against Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein with the backing of votes from Africa, Asia and Oceania.
Blatter announced four days later he would step down as the organisation lurched into the worst crisis in its 111-year history with 14 sports marketing executives and soccer officials, including several from FIFA, were indicted in the U.S. on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges.
His successor will be elected at an extraordinary Congress on Feb. 26 and UEFA president Michel Platini, who has become a bitter foe of Blatter, is among the candidates.
European media have been critical of the system where each of FIFA’s 209 national associations hold one vote, meaning that four-times world champions Germany hold the same influence as Liechtenstein, the Cook Islands and St Lucia.
In June, German federation president Wolfgang Niersbach proposed that votes should be weighted, based on “size and sporting relevance of the federations”. One of Blatter’s achievements as FIFA secretary general and president has been the creation of a match calendar that guarantees a set number of dates for international games each year.
The calendar ended a tug-of-war between European clubs and South American and African national teams over who got priority when there was a clash of dates.
However, European club managers still complain at having to release players for the biennial African Nations Cup.
European clubs scored a victory recently when FIFA abolished an international date for friendlies in August.
Blatter was speaking on Saturday at an annual soccer tournament he organises near his ancestral home in an Alpine valley.
Platini, who has attended in the past, was not present although Blatter said the Frenchman had been invited.
“All are always invited but he could not come,” said the Swiss.
Editing by Tony Jimenez