Inside Lines: Sepp Blatter faces fresh challenger for Fifa presidency


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Sepp Blatter, not noted for any Anglophilic tendencies, must be less than enamoured to learn that a man with a distinctly English-sounding name is set to oppose him when the 78-year-old Fifa president stands for a fifth term next year.

Former diplomat Harold Mayne-Nicholls is in fact a Chilean of English-Croatian descent. To add to the beleaguered Blatter’s angst, Mayne-Nicholls, 53, once in charge of the Chilean FA, also works as a journalist and was the Fifa official whose warnings about Qatar’s suitability to host a summer World Cup were ignored by their executive committee. He led the technical commission which assessed each bid for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

Now he confirms he is seriously considering opposing Blatter. “What has happened lately has not served the image of Fifa or, indirectly, football,” he says. “There is a complete disconnect between what the fans think is needed and the administration of the game. That leads me to believe that you can accomplish change while maintaining what works well. I do not think it is wise to maintain both the same individuals and structures.”

Blatter, who learned last week that he must forsake his seat on the International Olympic Committee when he reaches his 80th birthday in March 2016, faces a possible three-pronged fight for the presidency he has held since 1999. Another former top Fifa official, Frenchman Jérôme Champagne, has already declared his candidacy.

IOC silent on Iran

Women’s sport is on the up, judging by the Wembley crowd, capped at 55,000, for the England-Germany game and the appointment of another female to a top sporting post – UK Anti-Doping’s new chief Nicole Sapstead.

 What a shame, then, that this enthusiasm for women’s sporting rights does not extend to doing something about the situation in Iran, where British-born law student Ghoncheh Ghavami remains in jail simply because she tried to watch a men’s volleyball match. Women are banned from attending men’s sports events in Iran.

So why are the IOC not hauling Iranian Olympic officials before their executive board and warning that unless this shameful wrong is righted Iran will be suspended immediately from the Olympic movement?

Try Whelan dealing?

Sheffield United’s U-turn over convicted rapist Ched Evans’s return to the club leaves the out-of-contract player needing to seek employment elsewhere. Who might sign him? Maybe he should try texting Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan...