Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

FIFA Vote to Be Held Feb 26; Blatter Defies Calls to Go Now

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

FIFA Vote to Be Held Feb 26; Blatter Defies Calls to Go Now

Article excerpt

ZURICH * Sepp Blatter had a good day at the office on Monday, even if a prankster tried to spoil it by showering the FIFA president with fake dollar bills at a news conference.

Nothing could spoil Blatter's day after he outwitted some of his FIFA opponents to earn precious extra time as their president.

Mastering FIFA politics yet again, amid calls to step down immediately, Blatter is set to stay atop world soccer for seven more months after FIFA agreed Monday on a Feb. 26 election to replace him.

Blatter was in such a good and defiant mood that he quickly shrugged off a chaotic start to his first major public appearance since a stunning resignation statement last month.

A British comedian who crashed the news conference at FIFA's headquarters in Zurich threw the fake bills in the air after making a spoof statement about supporting North Korea to host the 2026 World Cup.

The image of Blatter cowering under a spray of money was powerful amid ongoing American and Swiss federal investigations of FIFA corruption, yet he regained his poise.

Still, it made for an uneasy start with international networks and FIFA's own YouTube channel broadcasting the news conference live.

"Where is my security?" Blatter had shouted.

The interruption provided an awkward reminder of a far more serious incident for FIFA in May, when the arrest of soccer and sports marketing officials plunged the game's ruling body into its deepest crisis.

Jolted by the dual criminal investigations into bribery and money laundering, Blatter announced four days after being elected for a fifth term that he would leave FIFA.

"It was not only the pressure of any authorities ... it was also the pressure of political interference and also the pressure of you, media," said Blatter, a target of the U.S. investigation. "I had to do something very special and I did it. …

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