Luis Figo to stand for Fifa presidency

Former Barcelona and Real Madrid star wants to improve the image of football’s governing body

Luis Figo is to join the field of candidates to rival Sepp Blatter for the role of Fifa President. The 42-year-old former Barcelona and Real Madrid star told CNN he wants to clean up the organisation after a series of high-profile scandals.

Figo joins David Ginola, Jérôme Champagne, Prince Ali of Jordan and Michael van Praag, the head of the Dutch FA, in the list of candidates. The deadline for nominations is Thursday, and Figo has confirmed that he has the required five nominations from Fifa member associations in order to stand.

“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,” he told CNN.

“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.”

The former Portugal midfielder, who has served on the Uefa Football Committee from 2011-2015 said that the furore around Michael Garcia’s report in to the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding was one of the things that had prompted him to run.

“After that report was not published I think that was the moment of change and the moment I thought that something had to be done,” Figo said.

“If you are transparent and if you ask for an investigation, a report, which you have nothing to hide, why don’t you make public that report? If you have nothing to hide about that, you have to do it.

“[Publishing the report] is the easy thing to do if all the people is doubting what happened. If it came from Fifa to order that report and after that you don’t publish, it is not a good decision.”

In a press release announcing his intention to stand Figo said: “I am convinced that Fifa’s position as the governing body of world football is absolutely vital. For this to be preserved it is essential that we see change at the top and we set Fifa on a new course which is all about football and less about politics. This is why I am looking forward to getting on the road in the coming weeks, to explain in detail my programme and my vision. My aim is to nourish my plans with the insights and ideas of the National Associations, to listen to their concerns and to provide a forum for a new approach to Fifa which is focussed on Fifa’s stakeholders rather than just Fifa.

“Football runs through my veins. I am a man of football, inside out and I am ready to help bring about change.”

While many doubt the chances of victory for any of Blatter’s rivals, the 2000 Ballon d’Or winner old CNN that he has a chance. “I think no one is untouchable in this life. If you think like that you are wrong.

“Of course [BLATTER]is a person that is running the organisation for so long, since 1998, and a lot of people can be the favourite but I can say for me it is a fantastic challenge to try and convince the people to follow me and support me.

“I have so many examples in football; you can play against the strongest team or you can play against the weakest team and you never know who will win.

“Sometimes you think you will lose and you win, sometimes you think you will win and you lose. That is the beauty of sport. That is the beauty of this running too. It is not easy but you have to believe.”