MIAMI - CONCACAF, the confederation for
North and Central America and Caribbean football, delayed giving
Sepp Blatter their total support on Tuesday, stalling his
campaign to be re-elected FIFA president next month.
Instead delegates at the CONCACAF congress agreed to extend
an invitation to his opponent, Mohamad Bin Hammam of Qatar, to
address delegates at the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) congress
The expected announcement of support for Blatter was
withheld at Tuesday's congress of the 35 member nations because
Bin Hammam was unable to attend after failing to get a U.S. visa
"We didn't take any decision about the vote as Mr Bin
Hammam, wasn't here because he couldn't get a U.S. visa and we
thought that, out of respect and fair play, we should at least
listen to him so we have postponed that decision until we have
heard from him," said Jack Warner, the CONCACAF president.
He said Bin Hammam will address the 30 members of the CFU on
Warner added that CONCACAF would, as usual, vote as a block
and the May 10 meeting in Port of Spain was only being convened
as an opportunity for Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian
Football Confederation (AFC), to make his case to members.
Delegates at the congress, speaking on condition of
anonymity, told Reuters the final decision on who CONCACAF would
vote for will likely be taken the day before the election itself
in Zurich on June 1 when the confederations' caucus gathers.
Blatter, who described the Americas as his "base," told
reporters he was "absolutely sure" he had the same level of
support from the region as in the past.
The 75-year old Swiss, who has been in charge of FIFA since
1998, said he had even been told by Warner that he did not need
to lobby for votes in the region.
"I was not campaigning here because at the beginning of
congress the president of CONCACAF said: 'You don't need to
campaign in this region'," said Blatter.
"The Americas in South America or CONCACAF have always been
my base and I don't think that anything has changed, especially
after this congress and the declarations made at this congress.
"When you get the message you don't need to campaign and
take your time to go somewhere else - you cannot be more
clear," he added.
"I am confident, more than confident, after this congress
that we are going forward with energy and a lot of optimism and
that, at the end of the day, there will be no change, as there
has been no change here," said Blatter.
Three delegates, speaking off the record after the congress,
which was closed to the press, said they expected the CONCACAF
vote to go to Blatter.
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