Global Sports : Blatter Rejects TV Debate

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Sepp Blatter has rejected an invitation to participate in a live televised debate with his rivals for the FIFA presidency.
Sky and the BBC had invited the FIFA president and his three challengers to take part in an hour-long debate, answering questions from an international audience of football supporters.
All three of Blatter’s rivals – Prince Ali of Jordan, Michael Van Praag of the Netherlands and former Portugal winger Luis Figo – have accepted the invitation on the condition that the FIFA president takes part.
A FIFA representative has told the broadcasters that Blatter was declining the invitation. They did not offer any explanation for his decision, and he has not responded in writing.
Sky and the BBC proposed a four-way debate, broadcast on television, radio and online, in front of an audience of fans drawn from all 209 FIFA member nations. This ‘Fans’ Congress’, mirroring the national football associations who will elect the FIFA president, would provide all the questions.
In the invitation, the broadcasters wrote: “We believe this is a perfect opportunity for those who aspire to the FIFA presidency to address the issues that matter to supporters of the world’s favourite game.”
Blatter’s rivals all enthusiastically welcomed the proposal, but stressed the importance of the FIFA president’s participation.
Prince Ali told the broadcasters he was “very keen to participate” and said the Sky-BBC proposal “makes a lot of sense”.
Figo wrote: “I am honoured by your invitation to take part in such an important debate, and it will be a pleasure to contribute to such an important discussion for football.”
Van Praag said he was also keen to participate in a forum that would have opened up the FIFA election procedure to an audience beyond the football insiders who decide the election.
Blatter may now face criticism from his rivals for avoiding discussion of issues concerning FIFA’s reputation, the World Cup hosts selection process and corruption allegations, which they say should be at the heart of the election.
For his part, Blatter’s rejection of the debate proposal is in keeping with a low-key “non-campaign” that appears designed to minimise debate and risk.
Since formally declaring his candidacy at the end of January, Blatter has made no public comments regarding his plans for FIFA or published a manifesto or any other proposals for what would be his fifth term in office.
He is not thought to have appointed any campaign staff, and under the election rules FIFA employees are prevented from working for his election effort.
He remains a strong favourite to win the election in Zurich, Switzerland, on May 29.

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