Friends are rare at FIFA: Blatter warns Infantino

Zurich, Feb 28 (IANS) Tainted former FIFA president Sepp Blatter has warned his successor Gianni Infantino that the road ahead will be tough adding that friends will become increasingly difficult to come by in the corridors of power.

The 79-year-old also extended his support to the newly-elected president, saying that he is ready to offer his help, if required. Infantino was elected FIFA president here on Friday, replacing Blatter, who saw his reign come to an end amid allegations of corruption and is now serving a reduced six-year ban from the sport.

“I congratulate you but remember that this position you wanted will not be easy. Miracles will be expected. I had these expectations for the last 18 years at FIFA, which I served for 41 years,” Blatter wrote in an open letter published by French newspaper Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.

“The miracles will be aided by the vote overwhelmingly taken for the reforms which I had also started. If by chance, you want an opinion or advice, do not hesitate. For now, stay calm. You have two months to implement the decisions taken.”

Swiss Blatter said his compatriot Infantino will be allowed a period of grace but could face stormy waters if reforms are implemented slowly for the patience of federations and sponsors.

“Prepare yourself well but be vigilant. While everyone supports you and tells you nice words, know that once you are the president, friends become rare. At 6:01pm on Friday, when you were elected, a weight lifted from my shoulders,” Blatter said.

“I now have fewer responsibilities and more time to take care of my life. I am no longer president. But I gladly accept the French system which says that, once we are president, we remain president forever!”

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