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Blatter gives huge hint he'll run for office again

Fifa President Sepp Blatter attends a news conference after the meeting of Fifa's Executive Committee at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, October
Fifa President Sepp Blatter attends a news conference after the meeting of Fifa's Executive Committee at the Home of FIFA in Zurich, October

By Brian Homewood

BERNE (Reuters) - - FIFA president Sepp Blatter has given the strongest hint yet that he is ready to stand for a fifth term, telling Swiss public radio he would not say no if member associations asked him to stand.

"I'm in good health and I don't see why I should now think about stopping the work, about the consolidation of FIFA," Blatter, told French-language station RTS in an interview on Friday.

"If the member associations ask me to be a candidate, I would not say no" said the Swiss who has been president since 1998.

"There are lots of people who say it's necessary to carry on, the continuation is necessary, it's not necessary to stop," he added.

The next FIFA presidential election is in 2015. Each of FIFA's 209 member associations holds one vote.

Blatter, who will be 78 in March, was elected unopposed for a fourth term in 2011 after his rival Mohamed Bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy after being accused of offering cash for votes. Bin Hammam was later banned for life.

CHANGED MIND

Blatter initially said it would be his final term but since then has continually hinted at a change of mind.

In January, Blatter said he would make his decision on whether to run again before this year's Congress in Sao Paulo in June.

Shortly afterwards, his former aide Jerome Champagne announced at a news conference in London that he was standing for election, but added he did not think he could not beat Blatter if the Swiss also stood.

When contacted by Reuters on Friday the 55-year-old Frenchman refused to comment on Blatter's intentions.

On Thursday Blatter called for the International Olympic Committee to scrap its age limits for members, saying they should be voted out only if they are incapable of performing their duties.

Changes implemented in the wake of the Salt Lake City Games bribery scandal mandate that IOC members must resign at 70 if they joined from 1999 onwards.

Members who joined before 1999 have an age limit of 80.

Blatter became ex-officio IOC member in 1999, before the new rules came into force that year, following his election to the FIFA presidency the previous year.

Blatter said FIFA had conducted its own study and found age limits could be discriminatory and the IOC should scrap them.

"We concluded that imposing an age limit is an act of discrimination. What needs to be changed can be done in a democratic way," he told an IOC session in Sochi where the Winter Olympics are being held.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood. Editing by Mike Collett) nL3N0LC453

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