Jerome Champagne has announced that he has withdrawn his Fifa president candidacy after failing to secure the minimum five nominations required.
Champagne announced his withdrawal in a letter to national associations where he blamed Uefa and the “institutions” mobilising to eliminate him. He said he had secured three nominations but other associations feared reprisals if they backed him.
“I regret to have to announce that I have not presented the five sponsorship letters needed to be registered as a candidate in the election of May 29th,” the Frenchman’s statement read.
Prince Ali of Jordan, former Portuguese footballer Luis Figo and Michael van Praag have been confirmed as the three runners in the race for the position which Sepp Blatter has held since 1998. He is of course himself, controversially, in pursuit of a fifth term.
Candidates were required to secure the backing of five national football associations.
Figo’s campaign has been backed by a number of former players including France’s Patrick Vieira, Brazil’s Roberto Carlos, England’s Steve McManaman, Japan’s Hidetoshi Nakata and Dwight Yorke from Trinidad and Tobago.
Vieira, head of the elite development squad at Manchester City, said: “I have spoken to Luis and as former players we have a responsibility to look after the game we all love so much.
“Luis wants to give back to the game and the fans that have supported him throughout his career. Luis is a very serious candidate for the Fifa presidency and I wish him all the best for his challenge.”
McManaman, who played with Figo at Real Madrid, added: “I know Luis Figo well enough to say that he’s totally capable of doing a great job as president.
“He’s a talented, competent, dedicated and honest man wanting to bring back some essential values to football’s governing body. And we all know how badly Fifa needs that positive change.
“I fully support his candidacy and hope that the federations will vote for him as the best candidate to lead Fifa in the near future.”
Fifa has said the four people left in the race — Blatter, Prince Ali, Van Praag and Figo — will now be subjected to integrity checks by the ethics committee before they are confirmed as candidates.