Luís Figo’s big Fifa dream

2015-03-24 13:30

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World footballer of the year in 2001 Luís Figo is confident he is the man who can finally unseat Sepp Blatter as Fifa president on May 29.

The Portuguese maestro was in South Africa on a covert campaign trail this week.

During an exclusive interview with City Press, the 42-year-old revealed his plan to garner enough support from Fifa’s 209 member associations to win the elections.

Figo said it was time for change – and he had the ideas and the strong character needed to reform and transform Fifa.

The other two candidates are Fifa vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan and Royal Dutch Football Association president Michael van Praag.

“I am not opposing Blatter, per se, but I strongly believe that he has run his race in his 17 years in charge. It’s time for change,” Figo said.

“Being a former player does not give me the right to be the president – because without ideas and support, it won’t happen. Everyone I have spoken to agrees that something needs to change for the future of democracy and transparency.

“I am not running against Blatter, but in support of my ideas. I know Blatter has done well for football, but what I see now is not good for the organisation,” he explained.

Figo is therefore on a mission to convince member countries to embrace change.

“We need to restore the credibility and image of Fifa that has been degraded. That will allow us to change development across the world. One of my priorities is to increase participation of all ages in the world, expand infrastructure, increase expertise and improve refereeing – and all these are important to development,” he noted.

Figo does not expect confederations to vote in blocs.

“I have been assured of support by different member countries from different confederations. I am a global candidate and I have support from all over the world.

“I am pretty confident that I have support from Africa, because of my relations with different federations here – as we share the same goals,” said Figo.

He vowed to implement a zero-tolerance policy towards racism and match-fixing, saying this could only be done through education.

The football great mentioned that he was happy with the efforts to root out corruption, especially with the cooperation of law enforcement authorities, but more could be done.

He was also not joking, he said, when he recently proposed a 48-team world cup.

“I wanted to open a debate in the congress about the future of the World Cup. I have two proposals, for the status quo to remain or to increase the teams to 40 or 48.

“This would mean confederations get more spots and there would be more participation and more funding for development. It would also open the World Cup to new markets and countries that have never been there,” he explained.

Figo’s campaign has already taken him to South America, where he attended the Conmebol congress, and Philadelphia, for the Gold Cup draw.

Next week, he will be at the Uefa congress in Vienna, before jetting off to Cairo for the CAF congress on April 7.

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