CONCACAF delays backing Blatter

MIAMI - CONCACAF, the confederation for North and Central America and Caribbean football, delayed giving Sepp Blatter their total support on Tuesday, stalling his campaign to be re-elected FIFA president next month.

Instead delegates at the CONCACAF congress agreed to extend an invitation to his opponent, Mohamad Bin Hammam of Qatar, to address delegates at the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) congress next week.

The expected announcement of support for Blatter was withheld at Tuesday's congress of the 35 member nations because Bin Hammam was unable to attend after failing to get a U.S. visa in time.

"We didn't take any decision about the vote as Mr Bin Hammam, wasn't here because he couldn't get a U.S. visa and we thought that, out of respect and fair play, we should at least listen to him so we have postponed that decision until we have heard from him," said Jack Warner, the CONCACAF president.

He said Bin Hammam will address the 30 members of the CFU on May 10.

Warner added that CONCACAF would, as usual, vote as a block and the May 10 meeting in Port of Spain was only being convened as an opportunity for Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), to make his case to members.

FINAL DECISION

Delegates at the congress, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters the final decision on who CONCACAF would vote for will likely be taken the day before the election itself in Zurich on June 1 when the confederations' caucus gathers.

Blatter, who described the Americas as his "base," told reporters he was "absolutely sure" he had the same level of support from the region as in the past.

The 75-year old Swiss, who has been in charge of FIFA since 1998, said he had even been told by Warner that he did not need to lobby for votes in the region.

"I was not campaigning here because at the beginning of congress the president of CONCACAF said: 'You don't need to campaign in this region'," said Blatter.

"The Americas in South America or CONCACAF have always been my base and I don't think that anything has changed, especially after this congress and the declarations made at this congress.

"When you get the message you don't need to campaign and take your time to go somewhere else - you cannot be more clear," he added.

"I am confident, more than confident, after this congress that we are going forward with energy and a lot of optimism and that, at the end of the day, there will be no change, as there has been no change here," said Blatter.

Three delegates, speaking off the record after the congress, which was closed to the press, said they expected the CONCACAF vote to go to Blatter.


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