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Blatter challenges critics to take him on

ULRICHEN, Switzerland (AP) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter challenged his critics to ''take a risk'' and run for election against him next year.

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''Don't speak - go out and fight, then you will see,'' Blatter said Saturday at his annual charity soccer tournament. ''People, they say I should not be a candidate or I should not be elected - they can take the risk to be in the election.''

The FIFA leader did not identify potential rivals in the ballot scheduled in May, though he appeared to target UEFA President Michel Platini.

Platini, the long-time favorite to succeed his FIFA mentor Blatter, publicly withdrew his backing ahead of the World Cup in June.

''In the future I won't support Blatter anymore. I've told him that,'' Platini said then in France after the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo. ''I think that FIFA needs a breath of fresh air.''

Platini spoke out after some European soccer leaders urged Blatter to stand aside at a hostile UEFA meeting in Brazil. They reminded Blatter of a 2011 promise to leave FIFA in 2015.

Platini will hold a news conference Aug. 28 in Monaco where he could address his FIFA plans ahead of the Champions League draw.

Blatter plans to confirm he's a candidate for a fifth term before the January deadline.

If Platini opts not to run, UEFA could field another candidate such as Netherlands soccer federation president Michael van Praag, who spoke against Blatter in Sao Paulo.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
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