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 April 24, 2002 | 1127 IST

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FIFA faces "rocky road" to World Cup: Jordaan

The bitter battle for the most powerful job in world soccer is going to leave governing body FIFA with wounds to heal on a "rocky road" to next month's World Cup, according to South Africa football chief Danny Jordaan.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who is facing a challenge from Cameroon's Issa Hayatou in the May 29 election in Seoul, has been hurt by what he called a "campaign of hatred and destruction" in the last few weeks.

The public row, which has involved European chief Lennart Johansson, has provided a huge contrast to last year's fight for the International Olympic Committee presidency which was competitive but looks like a polite tea party in comparison.

Jordaan, who heads South Africa's campaign for the 2010 World Cup, said FIFA faced a difficult journey to the World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea which begin just two days after the election.

"I think the division within FIFA is very clear and deep-rooted," Jordaan said. "So there are two distinct camps within FIFA.

"How FIFA is going to deal with that -- because two days after the election they will have to prepare for the opening match between France and Senegal in a World Cup that is going to be a huge test from an organisational point of view.

"It is going to be a rocky road between now and the opening match of the World Cup."

Blatter has been under siege since allegations seven weeks ago that his supporters bribed voters before the 1998 presidential poll when he faced Johansson.

Johansson's opposition reached a climax last week when he sent a letter to the 51 associations in European governing body UEFA saying Blatter's confrontational approach was damaging the game and urging them to vote for Hayatou.

Asked if he was surprised by the campaign's bitterness, Jordaan said: "These issues have been simmering for some time.

"The election of a new president and the prospect of whoever wins will govern for the next four years has added fuel too and ignited the flame which burns very strongly.

"If post-election the two camps are further entrenched, then it does not matter who becomes president, it is going to be difficult."

He added: "It is going to be a huge challenge for whoever becomes president to rebuild trust, confidence, to get unity of purpose, to present a new vision for world football and to heal the wounds between the national associations."


UEFA holds its Congress on Thursday in Stockholm. According to Jordaan, attending the Sportbusiness 2002 conference in London, the meeting is crucial for Hayatou's chances of winning.

The South African said Blatter had overwhelming support from South America.

"So it really depends on the UEFA Congress and then Africa," he said.

"It depends on whether Issa Hayatou is able to get the majority of those votes. I think the UEFA Congress is going to be critical to the future and hopes and aspirations of Hayatou.

"If he can get 80 percent of UEFA support then he will have a chance. If not, I think he is going to be in trouble."

Blatter's running of FIFA's finances has been the target of particular criticism.

This month the Swiss was attacked by Johansson and others over his decision to suspend the work of an internal audit committee set up to investigate FIFA's finances following the collapse last May of its long-time marketing partner ISL-ISMM.

Jordaan believes the dispute, however, will be good for the game in the future. FIFA will never be the same again, he said.

"I think the race for the presidency of FIFA is also an indication in the shift within FIFA. For the first time the issues relating to who is going to be the president are not political but commercial," he said.

"It relates to how FIFA is run as a business. It is about the finance, about marketing contracts. I think that is an indication of, regardless who may win in the end, FIFA will not be able to be run on the same basis as it has been for a number of years prior to this election."

He added: "There is a lot of uncertainty. It is driven by desire to have transparency...That is in the long-term interests of world football."

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