FIFA president Sepp Blatter is celebrating his 79th birthday (Tuesday, March 10) determined to enjoy 80th birthday next year still at the head of the world football federation beyond re-election at Congress in Zurich on May 29.
Blatter is facing a three-way challenge from Prince Ali of Jordan, Luis Figo and Michael Van Praag in the confident knowledge that only once has a president been voted out of office. That was Englishman Sir Stanley Rous. He was ousted by Brazilian Joao Havelange in 1974.
Coincidentally Rous – former schoolmaster, international referee and Football Association general secretary – was 79 at the time.
A ‘mission’ to continue the worldwide promotion and development of football is the stated cornerstone of Blatter’s will to continue.
Should health (and critics) permit and he completes a fifth term then Blatter can become the oldest president of them all. Predecessor Havelange was 82 on his retirement in 1998 while Jules Rimet – father of the World Cup – was 80 when he stood down voluntarily in 1954.
However the prospects of even Blatter becoming the longest-serving FIFA president are minimal.
Thus far he has been in office 17 years. This leaves him seven years short of Havelange’s 24 years and far behind Rimet’s 33 years.
Of course Blatter can overtake Havelange if he is re-elected yet again in 2019 . . .