UEFA boss Michel Platini announced he would stand for president of world football’s governing body FIFA today, and immediately ran into a storm of criticism from one of his potential rivals.
Platini’s announcement ended weeks of speculation over whether the 60-year-old Frenchman would stand in the election to find a successor to the beleaguered Sepp Blatter.
But no sooner had he done so than Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, who lost out in the previous vote in May to Blatter, turned on him and described him as “not good for football”.
The Jordanian prince said Platini, considered a strong candidate, was not the man to run the sport’s global affairs.
“Platini is not good for FIFA. Football’s fans and players deserve better,” he said in a statement.
“FIFA is engulfed in scandal. We must stop doing business as usual. The practice of back-room, under-the-table deals must end.
“I believe that the voices of the individual Football Federations must be heard. In the coming week, I will be consulting with them 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,” added Prince Ali.
It now appears the 39-year-old, who is the third son of King Hussein of Jordan, may be plotting a fresh campaign to run against Platini and make a second bid for the high-powered post.
Earlier in the day, Platini officially announced his candidature in a letter to the presidents and general secretaries of the 209 FIFA member countries, and made public by UEFA.
“This was a very personal, carefully considered decision, one in which I weighed up the future of football alongside my own future,” he said.
“I was also guided by the esteem, support and encouragement that many of you have shown me.”
He promised to work tirelessly “in the interests of football”.
“There are times in life when you have to take your destiny into your own hands,” he said.
“I am at one of those decisive moments, at a juncture in my life and in events that are shaping the future of FIFA.”
Platini added: “During this last half-century or so, FIFA has only had two presidents. This extreme stability is something of a paradox in a world that has experienced radical upheavals and in a sport that has undergone considerable economic change.
“However, recent events force the supreme governing body of world football to turn over a new leaf and rethink its governance.”
Blatter decided to stand down shortly after being re-elected as president in June with scandal-hit FIFA’s reputation in tatters. He announced last week that the election for his successor would be held on February 26, 2016.
Platini has positioned himself as one of the most outspoken opponents to Blatter’s regime, and publicly called for him to stand down after seven FIFA Executive Committee members were arrested on corruption allegations in raids in Switzerland prior to May’s election.
Blatter ignored those calls and was duly elected for a fifth term as president, only to announce his intention to stand down on June 2 as world football’s governing body became mired in scandal.
Platini has since emerged as one of the most likely heirs apparent and has the verbal support of four of the six confederations that make up FIFA, with the strongly pro-Blatter Confederation of African Football and that of Oceania the only exceptions.
None of the others who have so far come forward appear as credible a candidate as Platini, who has been in charge of UEFA since 2007.
Former Brazil star Zico lacks any experience of international football administration while Liberian FA chief Musa Bility is unknown outside of Africa and Diego Maradona, who has declared an interest in standing, is unlikely to be a serious contender.
Last time out, Prince Ali got much of his support from UEFA members and was initially thought likely to give his backing to Platini rather than stand against him.
But that was before his swift and angry reaction to the news that Platini was a contender.
Candidates have until October 26 — exactly four months before the vote — to come forward. They must have the confirmed backing of at least five of FIFA’s 209 member nations, and be cleared by the world governing body’s ethics committee, to be able to stand.