Luis Figo announces bid for FIFA presidency
Updated: 2015-01-29 09:24
Champions League final ambassador Luis Figo smiles during the draw for the Champions League semi-finals matches at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, in this April 11, 2014 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]
GENEVA - The fight to remove Sepp Blatter from the most powerful job in world soccer intensified in Europe on Wednesday.
In a surprise entry to the FIFA presidential contest, Portuguese great Luis Figo - the 2001 world player of the year - claimed the required support of five national federations by the entry deadline Thursday.
"I look at the reputation of FIFA right now and I don't like it. Football deserves better," the former Barcelona and Real Madrid playmaker said in a statement without giving detailed campaign plans.
Meanwhile, Dutch federation president Michael van Praag launched his campaign in Amsterdam, promising to modernize FIFA, expand the World Cup with more places for non-European countries and give Blatter an advisory role.
Blatter's opponents also include FIFA Vice President Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.
Two more possible candidates from France, former FIFA official and longtime Blatter ally Jerome Champagne and former player David Ginola, seek to file nominations by Thursday evening's deadline.
Still, Blatter is strongly favored to win a May 29 vote by the 209 FIFA member federations, despite bribery and financial scandals which implicated several of his executive committee colleagues.
Soccer leaders worldwide have shown little desire for change during Blatter's 17-year reign overseeing spectacular commercial success for the World Cup. FIFA has cash reserves of $1.5 billion and distributes increasing bonuses to members.