CAF unaware of African requests for Blatter to stay on

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 15, 2015 8:12 AM

By Mark Gleeson

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Africa's soccer confederation (CAF) has not heard of any of its members asking Sepp Blatter to stay on as FIFA president, an executive committee member said on Monday.

"At CAF level we are not aware of any African countries who have written to ask Blatter to stay on," Kalusha Bwalya, a CAF executive committee member and president of the Football Association of Zambia, told Reuters.

"We feel it is better to get on with our own work in the mean time and see what everyone has to say in the next months. Everybody is waiting for clarity."

The confusion surround FIFA's leadership took a new twist on Sunday when the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper reported that Blatter, 79, may seek to stay on as president, less than two weeks after he promised to step down, four days after being re-elected.

The report said Blatter had received messages of support from African and Asian soccer associations, asking him to rethink his decision.

Blatter was honored by the support and had not ruled out remaining in office, the newspaper said, citing an anonymous source close to him.

But Bwalya, a former Zambia international, said CAF was waiting for FIFA's executive committee meeting before taking a position.

"The African members will then report back to the CAF executive when we met on August 6 and we’ll see what will be done after that," he said.

"At the moment there are a lot of rumors floating about and everyone is rushing to turn the smallest piece of information into a story."

Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term as FIFA president on May 27 when his opponent Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein withdrew after Blatter won the first round of voting by 133 votes to 73.

Four days later, as corruption allegations continued to batter FIFA, Blatter, in a shock announcement, said he would stand down and call a new election, due to be held between December and February.

The FBI are investigating bribery and corruption at FIFA, including scrutiny of how soccer's governing body awarded World Cup hosting rights to Russia and Qatar.

UEFA insiders told Reuters that European soccer's governing body was left perplexed by the reports that Blatter would stand again and that the plot would be too outrageous even for a Hollywood script.

Officially, European soccer's governing body did not want to comment but the German soccer association (DFB) called on Blatter, who is staying on until the election, to leave quickly.

"We only know the media reports which strengthen our clear position," spokesman Ralf Koettker told reporters. "Blatter's announced resignation must be formally completed as soon as possible."

Germany coach Joachim Loew said: "As far as I can speak as a coach, FIFA must have a new structure and there has to be a certain new start because all of this has damaged soccer, and that was dangerous. I think resigning from a resignation should normally not happen."

FIFA has not directly denied the newspaper report, instead referring Reuters to the speech Blatter made on June 2 when he said he would not be a candidate.

However, Domenico Scala, the official overseeing the process of choosing a new president, said on Sunday that Blatter's departure was an "indispensable" part of planned reforms to soccer's governing body.

(Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Writing by Brian Homewood in Zurich, editing by Mitch Phillips)