Former Portugal international Luis Figo has announced he is going to stand for FIFA presidency.
The 42-year-old has the support of five FIFA member federations – the minimum requirement needed for a candidate to enter May’s vote.
Figo is the second high-profile former player to enter the race after David Ginola declared his intention to run earlier in the month – although the former Newcastle and Tottenham winger is yet to secure the support of five federations.
Luis Figo announced his intention to stand for the FIFA presidency on Wednesday
Figo says he wants to help clean up the scandal-ridden image of FIFA
Figo’s standing means there should now be at least four candidates in the contest after nominations close on Friday.
As well as incumbent president Sepp Blatter and Figo, Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein and Dutch FA president Michael van Praag are standing.
Another candidate is French former diplomat Jerome Champagne, who is yet to get the support he needs but could do so.
Figo told CNN: ‘I care about football, so what I’m seeing regarding the image of FIFA – not only now but in the past years – I don’t like it.
Figo avoids a challenge during Real Madrid’s 2-1 Champions League final win over Bayer Leverkusen in 2002
Figo in action for Real Madrid against Porto in the 2003 Champions League
Figo won 127 international caps for his native Portugal and scored 32 goals
Luis Figo played for Barcelona for five years before moving to rivals Real in 2000
FIGO FACT FILE
Sporting (1989–1995) – 137 apps, 16 goals
Barcelona (1995–2000) – 172 apps, 30 goals
Real Madrid (2000–2005) – 164 apps, 38 goals
Inter (2005–2009)- 105 apps, 9 goals
Portugal 127 caps, 32 goals
Barcelona – 2 La Liga titles, 2 Copa del Reys, 1 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 UEFA Super Cup
Real Madrid – 2 La Liga titles, 1 Champions League, 1 UEFA Super Cup
Inter Milan – 4 Serie A titles, 1 Coppa Italia
Portuguese Football of the Year (1995-2000)
Ballon d’Or (2000)
‘If you search FIFA on the internet you see the first word that comes out: scandal – not positive words. It’s that we have to change first and try to improve the image of FIFA. Football deserves much better than this.
‘I’ve been talking with so many important people in football – players, managers, president of federations – and they all think that something has to be done.
‘Last year was the World Cup, I was in Brazil and I saw the reaction of all the fans regarding the image of FIFA and I think something has to be changed.
‘Change in leadership, governance, transparency and solidarity, so I think it’s the moment for that.’
Figo later tweeted: ‘I’m delighted to announce my candidacy for the FIFA Presidency. Football has given me so much during my life & I want to give something back.’
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has backed his compatriot, saying: ‘Luis Figo’s candidacy is a great step forward for football. His career over many years guarantees a better future for FIFA.
‘I believe in his character and determination, as well as his passion for the game. He will be a president focused on football and its general improvement, acting closely with all federations.’
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman, who coached Figo at Barcelona for two years, also believes the Portuguese can help change FIFA for the better.
He said: ‘Figo’s candidacy is an opportunity for the change of FIFA. I know him personally and I know that this is a decision based on the need of giving a new direction to an institution that suffered extensive damage in the past years.’
The Scottish Football Association confirmed it will be one of the five national associations that will nominate Van Praag, a fierce critic of Blatter’s. Van Praag will confirm the others involved at a news conference in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
Prince Ali Bin al Hussein (left) hopes to challenge Sepp Blatter and will have the support of the FA
Former Tottenham and Newcastle winger David Ginola has also entered the race to oust Blatter
Former FIFA deputy secretary general Jerome Champagne is also standing as a candidate
An SFA spokesman said: ‘We can confirm that the Scottish FA are one of the five associations nominating Mr Van Praag.’
Prince Ali is expected to be nominated by the Football Association – FA chairman Greg Dyke is understood to have offered the association’s backing to Prince Ali and discussions have taken place between board members ahead of a meeting on Thursday after which it is expected to be formally announced.
The FA board’s view is that the more reformist candidates who enter the contest the better.
SO, WHO ARE THE CANDIDATES IN THE FIFA PRESIDENCY RACE?
Twinkly-eyed, charismatic, grandfatherly figure to some; ruthless James Bond movie villain who has overseen years of corruption to others. The 78-year-old is seeking a fifth term as FIFA president and despite the outpouring of bad publicity about him is the clear favourite to win.
Grew up in a tough Lisbon neighbourhood to become Portugal’s most capped footballer, a world player of the year and a handsome poster boy for football. More recently the 42-year-old has worked for Inter Milan and on UNICEF projects.
Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein
A FIFA vice-president already, the prince from Jordan is a former special forces solider and, according to his website, a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad. The 39-year-old has backing among those wanting further reform of FIFA including the English Football Association but will struggle to gain support even in his home confederation of Asia.
Michael van Praag
Former chairman of Ajax, and son of Jaap van Praag who filled that role during the glory years, he has head of the Dutch FA for six years. An outspoken critic of Sepp Blatter’s, the 67-year-old, who has been nominated by the Scottish FA among others, has pressed UEFA hard to put forward a rival candidate.
French former diplomat who worked closely with Sepp Blatter for more than a decade at FIFA before being banished to the wilderness. Still close to Blatter and very anti-UEFA, the 56-year-old has had to fight off suggestions he is merely a stooge – and has done so by releasing a detailed manifesto.
Has become the joke candidate of the FIFA presidential contest and will probably not even get a single nomination. The former Tottenham and France winger’s campaign ended as soon as it started when it was revealed the 48-year-old was getting paid £250,000 by a bookmaker to run, and stands to earn even more via a cut of donations from wellwishers.
Source: Dailymail, FIFA