Football: Johansson at war with Blatter

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LENNART JOHANSSON, the president of European football's ruling body, Uefa, yesterday said that Sepp Blatter, the secretary general of Fifa, the sport's world governing body, was the puppet of his boss, Joao Havelange, as the two prepared for a vicious duel to claim the game's top job.

Irked by accusations that he was Germany's puppet, Johansson turned the tables. "I have to wonder why they call me a puppet who only represents the interests of the Germans," he said. "Who is the puppet here? Did Mr Blatter declare his candidacy himself? No, he had his president announce it. The whole thing is increasingly becoming a farce."

Blatter ended months of speculation on Friday when he told Havelange he intended to stand for election to succeed him as Fifa president. Johansson, the only other candidate, was derisive of Blatter's brinkmanship. "I am running, I am not running, maybe I will run," the Swede teased. "This is a game that girls play with daisies: He loves me, he loves me not. What kind of style is that?"

On the field in Europe, it was a good weekend for Juventus. Alessandro Del Piero and Filippo Inzaghi scored two goals each as Juventus crushed Milan 4-1 on Saturday to move back to the top of Italy's Serie A. Earlier in the day Internazionale had beaten Vicenza 2-1 and Lazio had won 2-0 at Udinese to push the defending champions from Turin into third place in a title race unfolding as one of the tightest for years.

In Germany, the Bundesliga leaders Kaiserslautern were surprisingly beaten 3-0 at home by Bayer Leverkusen while second-placed Bayern Munich also disappointed, being held 1-1 at home by struggling Karlsruhe.