Af­ter de­fy­ing quit calls, Blat­ter me­di­ates be­tween as­so­ci­a­tions

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY ROB HARRIS

Af­ter de­fy­ing pleas from FIFA spon­sors to quit im­me­di­ately, Pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter is con­tin­u­ing reg­u­lar busi­ness at soc­cer’s gov­ern­ing body, pre­sid­ing over a dis­pute be­tween soc­cer fed­er­a­tions on Tues­day.

The 79-year-old Blat­ter is de­ter­mined to stay in power un­til an emer­gency elec­tion in Fe­bru­ary, de­spite be­ing un­der crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Switzer­land over al­leged fi­nan­cial wrong­do­ing while run­ning FIFA and at risk of be­ing sus­pended by his or­ga­ni­za­tion’s own ethics com­mit­tee.

Re­turn­ing to his more fa­mil­iar role as a me­di­a­tor, Blat­ter gath­ered the Pales­tinian and Saudi Ara­bian fed­er­a­tions at FIFA’s Zurich head­quar­ters in an at­tempt to re­solve a spat over a game venue.

“Blat­ter is func­tion­ing well and in a good mood with com­mon sense, a sense of hu­mor,” Pales­tinian Football Union pres­i­dent Jib­ril Ra­joub told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Ac­cord­ing to Ra­joub, Blat­ter halted a rul­ing by FIFA’s World Cup or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee to or­der an Oct. 13 World Cup qual­i­fier be­tween the Pales­tini­ans and Saudi Ara­bi­ans to be re­lo­cated from the West Bank to neigh­bor­ing Jor­dan.

The Pales­tini­ans ac­cuse Saudi Ara­bia, which hosted the first leg in Riyadh, of be­ing wary of ap­pear­ing too close to Is­rael by go­ing through its se­cu­rity, lead­ing to the de­ci­sion to use a neu­tral venue.

“Blat­ter was clear, say­ing the de­ci­sion that was cir­cu­lated was in­valid and illegal and that each na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion has the right to play at home, in­clud­ing Palestine,” Ra­joub said.

The game has been post­poned af­ter Blat­ter’s in­ter­ven­tion, Ra­joub said, ex­plain­ing: “They need more time for de­lib­er­a­tion and dis­cus­sion.”

FIFA did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment.

Mean­while, the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee has told the AP that Blat­ter will no longer serve as one of its rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency’s Foun­da­tion Board.

Although Blat­ter’s 16-year-term as an IOC mem­ber ended in Au­gust af­ter he did not seek re-elec­tion, the 79-year-old pres­i­dent’s term on the WADA board ran through the end of 2015.

“The IOC is in the process of choos­ing a new mem­ber of the WADA Foun­da­tion Board,” the Olympic body said in a state­ment. “Mr. Blat­ter is no longer an IOC mem­ber and will not rep­re­sent the IOC dur­ing this time.”

WADA said it is wait­ing to hear from the IOC who will re­place Blat­ter on its de­ci­sion-mak­ing body.

“We un­der­stand that Mr. Blat­ter is no longer an IOC Mem­ber,” WADA told the AP. “We also un­der­stand that he will no longer be rep­re­sent­ing the IOC in one of its four Olympic Move­ment po­si­tions on WADA’s foun­da­tion board.”

FIFA is due to elect a new pres­i­dent in Fe­bru­ary af­ter Blat­ter’s de­ci­sion to step down, soon af­ter be­ing re-elected in May for a fifth term amid Swiss and Amer­i­can in­ves­ti­ga­tions into soc­cer bribery.

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