Secret talks between FIFA officials and Sepp Blatter have taken place over his future as the president of football’s world governing body, BBC Sport has learned.
The discussions, involving representatives from a number of football confederations, are understood to have started in October 2013, at the celebrations for the English Football Association’s 150th anniversary.
Blatter has since confirmed his intention to stand in May’s presidential election and seek a fifth term of office.
However, with the January 29 deadline looming for candidates to declare their interest, there is mounting concern amongst several FIFA executives over the governing body’s future direction and leadership.
Speaking in Manilla earlier this month, Blatter reaffirmed he has support from five of the six confederations that constitute FIFA.
But BBC Sport has been told the recent crisis within the governing body, stemming from an investigation into alleged World Cup bidding corruption that culminated last week in the resignation of ethics committee investigator Michael Garcia, could yet have far-reaching effects.
Garcia quit citing a lack of independence in FIFA’s judicial processes and his belief the organisation’s culture was beyond reform.
Speaking to BBC Sport, one source described 78-year-old Blatter as being increasingly “weary” following years of fire-fighting multiple scandals, a hectic work schedule and the acrimonious fall-out from the decision to award the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar.
FIFA sources have also spoken of how, in light of recent events, a number of potential challengers are now weighing their candidacy options.
The question being posed within FIFA circles is whether Blatter, if he opts to stand aside ahead of May’s election, would back the candidacy of one of the five publicly supportive confederation presidents.
UEFA, the European confederation, remains the most vocal critic of Blatter’s desire to continue on as president.
European football association chiefs, including FA chairman Greg Dyke, told Blatter he should stand aside for the good of the sport during a stormy meeting in Sao Paulo in June.
Yet UEFA has yet to propose a candidate of its own, with President Michel Platini ruling himself out of the running in July.
FIFA executive committee member Prince Ali of Jordan is understood to be one potential candidate UEFA would consider supporting.