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Hayatou says he'll run for FIFA presidency - 2002-03-18


African soccer chief Issa Hayatou announced March 16th he will challenge incumbent Joseph "Sepp" Blatter for the presidency of the International Football Federation, FIFA. The election will take place May 29th during the FIFA Congress in Seoul, South Korea.

Hayatou announced his candidacy in Cairo, where, for the past 14 years, he has been the president of the African Football Confederation, CAF.

The 53-year-old Cameroonian is running on a pledge to clean up FIFA's administration. He says if he becomes FIFA president, his office will be open and transparent. Hayatou has been a strong critic of current FIFA president "Sepp" Blatter. Blatter has been under fire in recent weeks for vote-rigging allegations dealing with the 1998 FIFA elections and the multi-million dollar collapse of FIFA's marketing partner.

In Cairo, Hayatou's bid received endorsements from the president of the European Football Union, Lennart Johansson, as well as the head of the Asian football confederation, South Korea's Chung Mong-joon.

But a victory by Hayatou in May is far from certain. The president of the Liberia Football Association, Edwin Snowe, says incumbent Sepp Blatter has done far more for African soccer than Hayatou.

Blatter is expected to campaign in Africa in advance of the vote. The FIFA chief says he's looking forward to a clean and democratic election duel in the spirit of fair play. The same way, he says, football should be played.

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