GENEVA (AP) — The two sides of being FIFA President Sepp Blatter are on display just before the troubled World Cup kicks off on June 12. Acclaimed by world football leaders but held in contempt by many football fans.
Blatter should arrive at the Itaquerao stadium in Sao Paulo to watch host Brazil play Croatia confident that this tournament — his fifth as president — won't be his last leading the world's favorite sport.
One day earlier, the 78-year-old Blatter should ask for, and get, consent from 209 FIFA member federation bosses to seek another four-year presidential term.
"Yes, I would like to do it," Blatter said earlier this month about his expected candidacy for the secret ballot scheduled May 29, 2015. "My mandate is almost over but my mission is not finished."
The endorsement at the Transamerica Expo Center might be a personal high point of Blatter's stay in Brazil, a country which loves football but not the cost levied on taxpayers to stage the month-long show.
When Blatter appears on a public stage he faces inevitable boos and jeers — just as at previous World Cups and the Confederations Cup held in Brazil last June.
The fact FIFA pays no tax to Brazil's public finances from its $4 billion revenue for broadcasting and commercial deals tied to the 2014 World Cup is an added provocation. Even if it is a standard demand on countries wanting to host a World Cup or Olympic Games.
Blatter, who often travels and is feted like a head of state, is a useful target for social activists and for football fans familiar with the corruption cases that have involved some of its senior officials in recent years.
A change to usual World Cup protocol means that presidents of FIFA and the host nation will not make speeches in the stadium during the formal opening ceremony.
Not after he and state President Dilma Rousseff were booed when addressing the crowd before Brazil's match which opened the Confederations Cup last year in the new Brasilia stadium.
"Friends of Brazilian football, where is the respect and the fair play, please?" the multilingual Blatter asked spectators in their Portuguese language, as their head of state stood beside him.
So, no chance in the 65,000-capacity Sao Paulo stadium for spectators to upstage the presidents.
"If you know that these things could happen, that at the end the two persons who are giving a speech will feel bad, why (do) you put them in this position?" FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said.
Still, the protocol plan calls for Blatter and Rousseff — who faces her own re-election contest within months — to jointly present the trophy on July 13 to the winning captain in Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium.
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