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Page last updated at 19:04 GMT, Friday, 6 May 2011 20:04 UK

Uefa throws weight behind Blatter in upcoming election

By Dan Roan
BBC sports news correspondent

Sepp Blatter
Blatter has promised to stand down in 2015

European football body Uefa's executive committee has given its "unanimous support" to Sepp Blatter in the upcoming Fifa presidential elections.

And the committee, which includes former Football Association chairman Geoff Thompson, has urged its 53 member associations to back Blatter.

Seeking a fourth term as president, the 75-year-old is standing against Asian football president Mohamed Bin Hammam.

The Fifa election is being held on 1 June in Zurich, Switzerland.

Michel Platini, who served as one of Blatter's key aides before becoming Uefa president in 2007, was expected to support the Swiss who has pledged that, if re-elected, he would step down in 2015. .

"The Uefa executive committee has decided to give its unanimous support to Mr Joseph S Blatter in the upcoming Fifa presidential elections and strongly recommends all Uefa member associations to do likewise," the organisation said in a statement.

Pesident of Fifa since 1998, Blatter has pledged wide-ranging reforms if he re-elected, including changes to how future World Cup hosts are chosen.

He has also proposed setting up a watchdog committee to supervise how the world governing body works, adding he already knew who he wanted to head the body, though he has not named him.

In terms of deciding where future World Cup finals will be staged, Blatter is considering allowing Fifa's 208 member associations to vote on host countries, a solution similar to the way the International Olympic Committee chooses Olympic venues.

Uefa is an influential body within Fifa's structure, holding 53 of the 208 votes which will decide the next president.

Fifa was criticised for the voting process that led its 24-man executive committee - reduced to 22 after two members were suspended for corruption - to give Russia the 2018 World Cup and choose Qatar as host of the 2022 tournament.

Many figures at the FA are still furious at the world governing body's rejection of the England bid, which gained just two votes, but Fifa vice-president Thompson's signature appears on a statement issued by the Uefa Executive Committee.

Thompson joined a single Fifa executive member in voting for England in December.

Blatter met FA chairman David Bernstein at Wembley last month as part of his re-election campaign, though England's governing body is still to decide who to vote for.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all expected to support Blatter, along with Russia.

"We appreciate everything Blatter has done for world and Russian football," said Russian Football Union president Vitaly Mutko.

Fifa had set a deadline of 1 April for all candidate nominations and the winner will require a two-thirds majority of the votes cast in the first ballot, or a majority in the second.

With 208 votes in total, Blatter needs 138 to get through in the first round and with guarantees of support from South America (10 votes) , Oceania (11), and the expectation he will receive a majority of Concacaf's 35 votes, as well as Uefa's backing, the Swiss is the odds-on favourite.

The 61-year-old Bin Hammam is Blatter's first challenger since African confederation president Issa Hayatou took him on - and lost by 139 votes to 56 - in 2002.

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see also
Blatter puts reform on his agenda
30 Apr 11 |  Football
Blatter outlines re-election plan
20 Apr 11 |  Football
Blatter reassures FA on 2018 vote
04 Apr 11 |  Football
Bin Hammam sole Fifa challenger
04 Apr 11 |  Football
Bin Hammam wants Fifa to open up
21 Mar 11 |  Football
Bin Hammam to challenge Blatter
18 Mar 11 |  Football

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