SPORTS

Blatter, 3 FIFA presidential election rivals asked to participate in TV debate by BBC, Sky

03/01/2015 06:53 EST | Updated 05/01/2015 05:59 EDT
LONDON - Sepp Blatter and his three FIFA presidential election rivals have been invited to participate in a television debate by the BBC and Sky.

The London-based broadcasters have written to the candidates proposing a one-hour "fans' congress" live on their globally available channels, websites and Facebook ahead of the election in May.

The 78-year-old Blatter is seeking a fifth, four-year term running football. FIFA Vice-President Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, Portugal great Luis Figo and Dutch football association chief Michael van Praag want to end Blatter's reign, which began in 1998.

Prince Ali and Figo have already said publicly they are willing to participate in a debate. In a letter to Blatter seen by The Associated Press, Sky and BBC wrote: "There is significant interest from other candidates."

The broadcasters would invite supporters representing the 209 FIFA member nations to the debate, with questions coming from the audience and viewers worldwide. They want to air the debate in April or May and a moderator is yet to be decided.

Unlike his rivals, Blatter has not published any details of his plans for FIFA if he wins the secret May 29 election of the 209 national associations.

"We believe this will present an unprecedented opportunity for the candidates to set out their plans and communicate directly with fans from around the world," Sky News said in a statement. "We hope for a positive response from all four candidates."

The English Football Association, which has been one of the most vocal anti-Blatter voices in world football, offered its national stadium as a debate location.

"I would love to see the four candidates for this election get in a room together and be questioned," FA chairman Greg Dyke said. "We would happily host it at Wembley."

___

Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris

MORE:cpSports