- Associated Press - Friday, April 29, 2011

FRANKFURT, GERMANY (AP) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter promises wide-ranging reforms if re-elected, including the way World Cup hosts are chosen.

Blatter told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine he also will set up a watchdog committee to supervise how FIFA works and “restore the credibility” of soccer’s governing body.

The 75-year-old Swiss is seeking a fourth term of office on June 1. His lone opponent is Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed bin Hammam.

Blatter said the process for selecting World Cup sites should be similar to that of the International Olympic Committee for Olympic venues.

FIFA was criticized for the way its last two World Cup hosts were picked _ Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022). Both decisions came at the same time, with two executive committee members barred from voting because of corruption allegations. Four other senior officials were also suspended.

“It’s a project I’ve had at the back of my mind,” Blatter told the paper. “I would like to (follow) the example of the IOC, to prevent what happened.”

Blatter wants the executive committee to review 10 or 12 bids, narrow the field to the best candidates and let FIFA’s congress choose the winner.

The full congress includes 208 FIFA members _ each representing a national association _ who would all have one vote. Until now, World Cup hosts have been chosen by the 24-member executive committee.

Blatter wants to form a group aimed at bolstering FIFA’s standing, and he already know whom he would like to lead it.

“I can’t tell you the name yet. He will choose the other members,” said Blatter, adding they not come from within soccer. “They should be familiar with football but their priority will be to restore credibility.”

Looking toward the election, Blatter said he questions the motives of his opponent.

“I don’t know why Bin Hammam became so aggressive suddenly. He repeatedly told the executive he would not run against me and now he is doing it,” Blatter said. “We had a really good relationship and he supported my election in 1998. We worked together but I wouldn’t say it was a friendship.”

Blatter revealed his presidential salary as “perhaps a bit more” than $1 million.

“I’m not ashamed by that,” he said, adding he’s willing to publish the salaries of FIFA officials “if the congress so decides.”

“Compared with international companies listed on the stock exchange, we are school kids as far as salaries are concerned,” he said.

The interview is set for publication on Saturday but excerpts were released Friday, as both candidates head to South America for campaigning. Blatter and Bin Hammam will attend the annual meeting Sunday of the 10-nation South American confederation in Asuncion, Paraguay.

Two days later, the 35-vote CONCACAF region meets in Miami. The group represents North and Central America and the Caribbean and is considered key to winning the election.

At the FIFA Congress in Zurich, the winning candidate needs a two-thirds majority on the first ballot or a simple majority on the second.

“I imagine that I have about the half votes from Asia and Africa and surely a majority in the rest of the world,” Blatter said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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