‘End is nigh’ for Blat­ter

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

KINGSTON — Usain Bolt is happy with his con­di­tion in the leadup to Au­gust’s world cham­pi­onships and will not be de­nied more sprint gold by Amer­i­can Justin Gatlin, ac­cord­ing to his coach Glen Mills.

“We take all com­peti­tors with a level of se­ri­ous­ness and I don’t see Gatlin as a joke, but the truth of the mat­ter is Usain at his best doesn’t have much to worry about,” Mills told Reuters in an in­ter­view.

Ja­maican Bolt will bid for a third 100 me­tres gold and a fourth 200m gold in suc­ces­sion at the Au­gust 22-30 meet­ing in Bei­jing.

LON­DON — FIFA pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Prince Ali bin Al Hus­sein ac­cused Sepp Blat­ter of turn­ing the pres­i­dency into a per­sonal fief­dom as he un­veiled his man­i­festo for the role on Mon­day.

Ali, FIFA vice-pres­i­dent for Asia, said in a phone call from Cairo, where he is at­tend­ing the Con­fed­er­a­tion of African Foot­ball congress, that an un­fair sys­tem of pa­tron­age had taken root un­der Blat­ter.

“Na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions have to feel that it’s not a mat­ter of an ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dent go­ing and sup­port­ing na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions on an ad hoc ba­sis, but that they have their rights, they own this as­so­ci­a­tion and that they should get the sup­port they need across the board in a case-by-case fash­ion,” said the Jor­da­nian royal.

Ali, Dutch foot­ball fed­er­a­tion chief Michel van Praag and for­mer Por­tu­gal winger Luis Figo are all vy­ing to un­seat 79-yearold Blat­ter, who will seek a fifth term in of­fice in the May 29 elec­tion in Zurich.

Ali’s man­i­festo con­tains sev­eral thinly veiled swipes at Blat­ter, in­clud­ing claims na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions have be­come de­pen­dent on his “per­sonal ap­proval” and a charge that World Cup rev­enues have been dis­trib­uted “at the whim of the FIFA pres­i­dent”.

He also warns that “dras­tic ac­tion” is re­quired to re­store the world gov­ern­ing body’s cred­i­bil­ity fol­low­ing cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions over the de­ci­sion to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Rus­sia and Qatar re­spec­tively.

When he launched his cam­paign in Fe­bru­ary, Ali spoke of a “cul­ture of in­tim­i­da­tion” within FIFA and he be­lieves the fear of los­ing favour may yet in­flu­ence na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tives when they vote in the elec­tion.

“Ob­vi­ously there is that fear. I

In Bolt’s ab­sence, Gatlin dom­i­nated the Di­a­mond League last sea­son, end­ing the year as world leader in the 100 and 200m with per­sonal best times of 9.77 and 19.68 sec­onds re­spec­tively.

“It’s good for the sport and cre­ates the kind of in­ter­est, but those kinds of things don’t af­fect us in any way be­cause Usain and my­self knows what we can get him to do when he’s fully fit and ready and that’s what we’re work­ing to do,” said Mills, who has guided Bolt since 2005.

“When we are ready and he’s peaked then have to be hon­est about that,” he said.

“The rea­son be­ing is that many na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions around the world re­ally de­pend specif­i­cally on FIFA fund­ing, even though I don’t be­lieve it’s where it should be in any case.

“Their fear is that there may be pun­ish­ments in that re­spect even down to con­fed­er­a­tions lev­els, where all of a sud­den things are not go­ing very well for them.”

Ali, pres­i­dent of the Jorda-

Reuters nian Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion, added: “When it comes down to the elec­tion, we also need to dis­cuss with the elec­toral com­mit­tee how things are con­ducted, that it’s a proper, se­cret bal­lot.

“I do have my con­cerns about the sys­tem that’s in place right now, where pos­si­bly peo­ple could know who the voter is at the end of the day.”

Figo’s man­i­festo in­cluded pro­pos­als to in­crease the size of the World Cup to up to 48 teams, but Ali, 39, be­lieves that all stake­hold­ers should be con­sulted be­fore any changes are brought in.

“I’m a bit sur­prised be­cause prom­ises are be­ing made to in­crease the num­ber of par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries in the World Cup and at the same time, in 2022, to shorten the ac­tual time of the World Cup,” he said.

“To me it doesn’t seem like there’s a prac­ti­cal study of how things should be done and we owe it to the whole foot­balling world to do things in a re­spon­si­ble man­ner.”

The 14-page man­i­festo out­lines Ali’s vi­sion for a “vir­tu­ous cir­cle of devel­op­ment, foot­ball and com­mer­cial suc­cess sup­ported by a FIFA that is a ser­vice or­gan­i­sa­tion and a model of good gov­er­nance”.

His pro­pos­als in­clude in­creased in­vest­ment in women’s and youth foot­ball, as well as a pledge that ev­ery mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tion will have “a na­tional sta­dium wor­thy of that ti­tle”.

He also wants to over­haul FIFA’S in­ter­na­tional rank­ing sys­tem, de­scrib­ing it as “flawed”, and calls for “a full and open de­bate” on the in­tro­duc­tion of video tech­nol­ogy.

Blat­ter is the over­whelm­ing favourite to win the elec­tion, but Ali said he was not yet think­ing of with­draw­ing from the race in or­der to throw his sup­port be­hind Van Praag or Figo.

“I can’t pre­dict what will hap­pen be­fore May 29 and I’m just fo­cused on na­tional as­so­ci­a­tions, on talk­ing to them, on learn­ing from them and if I’m elected pres­i­dent, on de­liv­er­ing on the prom­ises made,” he said. — Reuters

Prince Ali bin Al Hus­sein (left) and Sepp Blat­ter in hap­pier times.

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