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FIFA Presidency: Figo Bows Out Of Race

Posted: May 22, 2015 at 5:20 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

THE battle for FIFA presidency is now a two-horse race after Luis Figo joined Michael van Praag in withdrawing his candidacy on Thursday.

Dutch Football Association President, Van Praag, earlier pulled out of the race and gave his backing to Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, who will now go head to head with Sepp Blatter for the top job in world football.

Former Portugal international Figo then issued a lengthy and scathing statement on his Facebook page, in which he said: “My decision is made, I will not stand in what is being called an election for the FIFA presidency.”

Figo said he had agreed to run for president because ‘FIFA needs change’ and he feels that change is ‘urgent’, but said he had “witnessed consecutive incidents” that “should shame anyone who desires soccer to be free, clean and democratic.”

He said: “I travelled and met extraordinary people who, though they recognised the value of much that had been done, also concurred with the need for change, one that cleans up FIFA’s reputation as an obscure organisation that is so often viewed as a place of corruption.

“But over the past few months I have not only witnessed that desire (for change), I have witnessed consecutive incidents, all over the world, that should shame anyone who desires soccer to be free, clean and democratic.

“I have seen with my own eyes federation presidents who, after one day comparing FIFA leaders to the devil, then go on stage and compare those same people with Jesus Christ. Nobody told me about this. I saw it with my own eyes.”

The former Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder said it was not ‘normal’ for an election to go ahead without any public debate, and that one of the candidates – Blatter – “doesn’t even bother to present an election manifesto.

“That would be normal, but this electoral process is anything but an election,’ Figo said. ‘This (election) process is a plebiscite for the delivery of absolute power to one man – something I refuse to go along with.

“That is why, after a personal reflection and sharing views with two other candidates in this process, I believe that what is going to happen on May 29 in Zurich is not a normal electoral act. And because it is not, don’t count on me.”

Figo thanked those who have supported him and vowed to stand by the ideas he has circulated, predicting that the desired regeneration, “though it may take some time, will come.”

The decisions by Van Praag and Figo to withdraw have left just one man – Prince Ali, a FIFA vice-president from Jordan – as a rival for Blatter, who remains the favourite to win a fifth term in office at the age of 79.