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Saturday, February 19, 2011

US writer Grant Wahl seeks Fifa president Blatter's job


By Andy Sully
Fifa HQ in Zurich
Wahl says Fifa needs a Wikileaks style release of documents
An American journalist has vowed to run for the post of Fifa president in opposition to incumbent Sepp Blatter.
Writer Grant Wahl, 37, intends to stand as a "people's candidate" against 74-year-old Blatter, who is up for re-election in June.
Wahl is actively canvassing Fifa member federations to secure the one nomination he needs to stand.
Mohammed Bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation, is also tipped to run for the Fifa presidency.
However, US-based Sports Illustrated magazine journalist Wahl believes that Bin Hammam's candidacy would change little, arguing that the Qatari is a Fifa insider.
Blatter's attempt to win a fourth four-year term at Fifa is being run against the backdrop of corruption allegations that surrounded the bidding and votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Wahl's campaign has gained plenty of support on social media sites and the American has been encouraged by the backing of other journalists from around the world.
"Wherever I go, I encounter lots of dissatisfaction with Fifa. People aren't happy with the way it has been run but up until now there has been no way for anyone to register their feelings," claimed Wahl.
I do think there has to be a federation willing to support a candidate wanting to shake-up the system 
Grant Wahl
His manifesto includes introducing goal-line technology; abolishing quotas for different nationalities in appointing World Cup referees; scrapping yellow cards for goal-scoring celebrations; appointing a woman as Fifa secretary general and releasing documents relating to the organisation's past dealings.
"Fifa needs a Wikileaks-type clean out of documents to show what has gone on," alleged Wahl, referring to the whistle-blowing website which released classified US diplomatic papers.
Wahl, who has written a US best-seller about David Beckham's LA Galaxy career, insists his candidacy is not a joke.
"If people can take some humour from it then I'm happy, but I'm totally serious in hoping that this can lead to something that might bring about some real change," he said.
"I know I'm a long shot. I don't have the money to fly around the continents to garner support like Blatter, but I think there has to be a federation willing to support a candidate wanting to shake-up the system."
Grant Wahl
Wahl has a degree in politics from Princeton University
Wahl needs to gain at least one nomination by 1 April. The election will be held at Fifa's annual congress, which will take place from 31 May to 1 June.
The American is not the only individual to campaign against the presidency of Blatter, with an organisation called Change Fifacalling for major reforms of the Zurich-based governing body.
Fifa's expenditure and perceived secrecy has also come under criticism, although Blatter claims Fifa is open, unlike the International Olympic Committee, whose finances he believes are handled "like a housewife" .
And some comments by Blatter, who has headed the organisation since 1998, have been branded as sexist and homophobic.