Blatter sees off rival to cement position at the top of Fifa

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The Independent Football

Sepp Blatter has tightened his grip on Fifa after forestalling the challenge of his only probable rival for the organisation's presidency. The accompanying announcement that the governing body's annual turnover had broken the $1bn barrier for the first time only served to increase Blatter's security.

Mohamed bin Hammam, who heads the Asian confederation and was widely seen as the likeliest challenger to Blatter in next year's election, had proposed imposing an eight-year limit on any presidential run, but his motion was comfortably defeated. It effectively deals a terminal blow to Hammam's hopes of standing, meaning that Blatter, 74, seems certain to be re-elected unopposed to serve a further four years in an office he has held since 1998.

"The arguments which were brought forward were why should the Fifa presidential office be touched by such a limit and none of the confederation presidents?" said Blatter. "If there should be such a limit then it should be valid for everybody in Fifa and not just the president."

Michel Platini, Uefa's president, had been seen as a possible runner in some quarters, but yesterday's events at a meeting of Fifa's executive committee in Zurich will dampen down any such speculation. Platini's support, though, remains important and if he backs Blatter next year that could help ensure that the 2018 World Cup – for which England are one of the bidders – comes to Europe.

Fifa made a profit of £130m in 2009 and claims to be "unscathed" by the global financial downturn.

"We are comfortable," said Blatter. "I would not say we are rich but we are happy. Compared to Fifa, the International Olympic Committee's equity is far behind. A good result has been achieved." He added that the financial report justified awarding the World Cup to South Africa as a "good financial and commercial decision".

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