Luis Figo enters race to challenge Sepp Blatter in FIFA presidential election

Luis Figo: Portugal's most-capped footballer
Image: Luis Figo: Portugal's most-capped footballer

Former Ballon d'Or winner Luis Figo has announced his intention to stand for the FIFA presidency.

Portugal's most-capped player is the fifth man to declare an interest in opposing Sepp Blatter in the May election - and he claims he has the five nominations required to stay in the race beyond Thursday's deadline.

The Scottish Football Association is among six FIFA members to nominate Dutch FA boss Michael van Praag - the others being Belgium, Sweden, Romania, Faroe Islands and the Netherlands - while Sky sources understand the Football Association will endorse the candidacy of Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.

Jerome Champagne and former Newcastle winger David Ginola are the other potential candidates, although Champagne admitted this month he was not guaranteed to win the necessary support while Ginola has been forced to deny his campaign is a publicity stunt.

Prominent agent Mino Raiola, who had also expressed an interest, pulled out after Van Praag declared his intention to stand.

Speaking exclusively to CNN, Figo said: "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.

"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.

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"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."

Figo has the backing of compatriot Jose Mourinho, who said in a statement: "Luis Figo's candidacy is a great step forward for football. His career over many years grants a better future for FIFA.

"I believe in his character and determination, as well as his passion for the game. He will be a president focused on football and its general improvement, acting closely with all federations."

Blatter is standing for a fifth term despite growing opposition to his presidency from Europe, in particular, and he was told directly of van Praag's intention to run.

The Dutchman said: "I told Sepp Blatter: 'Sepp I want to modernise FIFA. The world wants FIFA to modernise and I want to lead this modernisation'.

"FIFA is doing badly and has lost all credibilit. FIFA is constantly under suspicion of conflicts of interests of nepotism, of corruption. FIFA has its back to the future.

"I have nothing against Mr Blatter, in fact I like him a lot as a person. However, someone who has led an organisation for so many years, and who has become the personification of its poor image, can no longer be the face of a modernisation operation for a new FIFA. It is impossible."

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