UK & World News
Blatter Row Intensifies On Eve Of World Cup
Under-fire Sepp Blatter is expected to ignore calls for him to step aside as Fifa president by confirming he will stand for re-election on the eve of the World Cup.
The head of football's world governing body has come in for fierce criticism, particularly in Britain, over allegations of corruption surrounding the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
But the 78-year-old did not appear to be a man under pressure when he took to the stage at the opening gala of Fifa's annual congress.
Having accused the British press of racism, he danced on stage with a glamorous Brazilian model and declared he was in a "festive mood".
There is widespread backing for Mr Blatter's expected presidential candidacy among Fifa members, although support among representatives from Europe appears to be dwindling.
FA boss Greg Dyke said it was "probably time for change" when asked about next year's election, telling Sky Sports News: "Fifa is a suspect organisation where there has been an awful lot of corruption."
Michael van Praag, the head of the Dutch football association, and Uefa's David Gill have been similarly critical, while Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff appeared to snub Mr Blatter by skipping the gala.
The row over Mr Blatter's future, coupled with claims Qatar used its political connections and natural gas wealth to help win the right to host the World Cup four years ago, have overshadowed the build-up to this year's tournament, which gets under way in Brazil on Thursday.
Organisers have faced a race against time to finish the country's 12 host stadiums, where eight construction workers have been killed.
The cost of infrastructure improvements has spiralled, with many projects falling way behind schedule, not least in Sao Paulo, where a key monorail link will not be finished on time.
Part of the line collapsed on Monday, killing a man who had been helping to build the extension.
A strike by subway staff in Sao Paulo, where Brazil face Croatia in the opening match, has further hampered preparations.
Workers, who have clashed with police in the city centre, have threatened to walk out again on the day the World Cup starts.
The cost of the staging the event has sparked further protests, with a recent poll suggesting two in five Brazilians think vital funds have been diverted from essential services like hospitals and schools.
Ms Rousseff, whose ratings are on the slide, tried to rally the nation in a pre-taped address, urging Brazilians to get behind their team.
"Brazil is ready on and off the pitch," she added.
"The pessimists ... have been defeated by the hard work and determination of the Brazilian people, who never give up."