FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Monday that he will be a candidate for a fifth term in charge of world football in an election next year.

“Yes I will be ready. I will be a candidate,” Blatter said in a video speech to a football conference in Manchester.

Blatter has been FIFA’s leader since 1998, but has faced growing criticism from European football chiefs in recent months.

The World Cup, a multi-billion dollar earner for FIFA, is also embroiled in controversy over the way the 2018 and 2022 tournaments were decided.

His path to a virtually automatic reelection was opened up after UEFA leader Michel Platini announced in August that he would not challenge Blatter.

The 78-year-old Swiss official said he would officially tell FIFA’s executive committee at a meeting on September 23-24.

“I will inform the executive committee. It’s a question of respect also to say then to the football family: ‘Yes I will be ready. I will be a candidate,” Blatter told the Soccerex conference by video from Zurich.

Blatter said after winning his fourth term in 2011 that it would be his last but made it clear in recent months that he has changed his mind.

The football boss said a majority of national associations had given him support at the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo in June. Despite tensions with UEFA leaders, he gets widespread backing from Africa and other key regions.

“You see a mission is never finished. And my mission is not finished,” Blatter said.

“Then I got through the last Congress in Sao Paulo not only the impression but the support of the majority, a huge majority of national associations asking ‘Please go on, be our president also in future’.”

The election will be held at next FIFA congress in Zurich in May, 2015. So far the only other candidate is Jerome Champagne a former FIFA deputy secretary general from France.

Champagne has said FIFA needs reform after widespread accusations of corruption, but has acknowledged he has little chance of beating Blatter.

Blatter blamed meetings in Zurich on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar for his withdrawal from attending the Manchester conference.

He told the conference the tournament could not be held in the blistering heat of the Qatar summer but added that no decision had yet been taken on when it will be held.

A corruption investigation has called for action against “individuals” over bids for the 2018 in Russia and the 2022 World Cup.

The ethics panel led by former US federal prosecutor Michael Garcia, which handed in its report on Friday, notably had been looking into the way Qatar won the 2022 World Cup.

The Gulf state has faced corruption accusations but strongly denied any wrongdoing.

“The report sets forth detailed factual findings; reaches conclusions concerning further action with respect to certain individuals; identifies issues to be referred to other FIFA committees; and makes recommendations for future bidding processes,” FIFA said of the document.

FIFA did not give any indication as to the recommendations made or the individuals named.

Blatter told the conference any action over the report and whether it would be published would be decided by FIFA committees and not him.

Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper has alleged that former Qatari football boss Mohamed Bin Hammam paid more than $5 million (3.7m euros) to gain support for the emirate ahead of the vote.

Qatar has strongly denied the allegations. Agence France-Presse

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