Former Portugal international Luis Figo said on Wednesday he wanted to stand for the FIFA presidency and had the five nominations needed.
Revealing his plans one day before nominations close to enter the race, the former Real Madrid and Barcelona forward told CNN he would run against incumbent Sepp Blatter because “football deserves better” than its current reputation.
Figo, 42, was twice voted World Player of the Year and played for Portugal a record 127 times, scoring 32 goals.
“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 said.
Figo is the latest to throw his hat in the ring alongside Blatter, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France, ex-France international David Ginola and Dutch FA president Michael van Praag.
His compatriot, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, issued a statement saying: “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.”
Speaking about his campaign, Figo said: “Football has given me so much during my life and I want to give something back to the game.
“In recent weeks, months, and even years, I have seen the image of FIFA deteriorate and as I speak to many people in football – to players, managers and Association Presidents – so many of those people have told me that something has to be done.
“Throughout my career I have worked at all levels of the game. This has given me a unique insight and understanding that I feel can enhance the discussion about the future of FIFA and the future of football.”
In a 20-year playing career Figo made nearly 800 appearances for Sporting Lisbon, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan.
He also led Portugal’s ‘Golden Generation’ in three European championships and two World Cups.
Since retiring he has represented charitable causes and built a reputation as a multilingual ambassador for the sport.
Figo, who has served on the UEFA Football Committee since 2011, said it was vital to see change in the governing body of world football.
“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,” he declared.
“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.”
The Danish FA (DBU) said it would back Figo “to get as wide a field with as many different profiles as possible.”
However, DBU president Jesper Moller stressed that its support did not automatically mean Figo would receive the DBU’s vote in the elections in May.
“My desire has always been to ensure that we get a proper election campaign, and thus an open debate on FIFA’s development and the tasks that international football is facing in the coming years,” said Moller.