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Published:Thursday | January 8, 2015 | 1:07 PM

Blatter welcomes Prince Ali's challenge

GENEVA (AP):

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has welcomed his election rival Prince Ali bin Al Hussein's challenge as good for debate.

Blatter is quoted by Swiss daily Le Matin saying "I can only be happy with this candidature."

The 78-year-old Blatter, who is strongly favoured to get a fifth mandate in the May 29 election, says "we are in a democracy and this can only be beneficial for debate."

Blatter was re-elected unopposed in 2011 after intended opponent Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar was implicated in bribing voters, and says it is better to win a contest.

Quoting a French saying, Blatter suggests "don't we say that winning without danger is triumph without glory?"

The 39-year-old prince of Jordan, a FIFA vice president, says the governing body needs to change and focus on football instead of controversy.

Football pitch worries for Olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP):

Rio de Janeiro Olympics organising head Carlos Nuzman says they may add one or two more football venues because of concerns about the ability of the pitches to withstand a punishing schedule.

Five cities are slated to host Olympic matches. All of them hosted matches during last year's World Cup.

The Rio 2016 committee is in discussions with world football governing body FIFA. If additional venues are required, both entities favour choosing World Cup venues, Nuzman said yesterday.

Brazil has been widely criticised for using 12 stadiums in the World Cup, some of which have already become white elephants.

Wiggins launches his own cycling team

LONDON (AP):

Former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins is launching his own cycling team as he prepares for the 2016 Olympics.

The British rider announced yesterday that the team to be launched this spring will be named Wiggins and sponsored by his current outfit Sky. The team will also be supported by the British cycling federation.

The 34-year-old rider is aiming for an eighth career medal at the 2016 Rio Games to become the most decorated British Olympian, and said he will also try to beat the Hour Record in the summer. The record involves riding as far as possible in an hour in a velodrome.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist became the first Briton to win the Tour in 2012. He will continue to ride for Sky until the end of April.