Michel Platini has been given the firm backing of the English Football Association after formally declaring he is to run for the Fifa presidency.
The 60-year-old Uefa president said he wants to restore the world governing body's dignity after the corruption crisis that engulfed the organisation and led to Sepp Blatter announcing his decision to quit as Fifa president.
Platini ended weeks of uncertainty yesterday when he announced that he would stand for the presidency. The former France captain – the Uefa president since 2007 and a Fifa executive committee member since 2002 – has written to the 209 member associations of Fifa, who each hold one vote in the presidential election, to inform them of his decision.
FA chairman Greg Dyke has thrown his weight behind the French man but warned that it will be a challenging task to change Fifa.
Platini has also championed Qatar’s 2022 World Cup despite the controversy surrounding the bid and the decision to play the tournament in the winter.
Dyke said: “We support Michel Platini’s candidacy. We have a good relationship with him and hope he can gain the necessary global backing to lead a new Fifa during the most difficult period in its history.
“We understand there will be a number of candidates, which should result in a strong and healthy debate. However, we should not underestimate how challenging it will be for anyone to lead an organisation that has been so tainted. The whole structure of Fifa must be reviewed and fundamentally changed.
Former Fifa presidential candidate Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan has criticised Platini’s decision to stand for the post.
“Platini is not good for Fifa,” said Prince Ali, who also lost his place on Fifa’s executive committee in May. “Football’s fans and players deserve better.
“Fifa is engulfed in scandal. We must stop doing business as usual. The practice of back-room, under-the-table deals must end,” he added.
Prince Ali, who is yet to announce whether he intends to run again, said he would be consulting individual football federations in the coming week “about what is in the best interests of football.
“What is clear is that Fifa needs new, independent leadership, untainted by the practices of the past,” he said. The Jordanian withdrew from the previous election on May 29th after receiving 73 votes to Blatter’s 133 in the first round of voting.
However, Blatter, in a shock announcement four days later, said he would lay down his mandate as Fifa was engulfed by a bribery scandal being investigated by US, Swiss and other law enforcement agencies.
The scandal has plunged Fifa into the worst crisis in its 111-year history.