Portugal quick to back Figo’s FIFA campaign

Luis Figo is challenging on an anti-Blatter ticket along with Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan and others

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Luis Figo’s decision to enter FIFA’s presidential election has received a positive reaction in his native Portugal even though he faces a seemingly impossible task to unseat incumbent Sepp Blatter in May.

Figo, 42, a former World Player of the Year and one of the greatest players of his generation in his time with Real Madrid and Barcelona, entered the race on Wednesday saying he had the five nominations from national FAs to launch a challenge for the top job in world football.

The deadline for nominations closes at 2300 GMT on Thursday and he is challenging on an anti-Blatter ticket along with Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, Michael van Praag of the Netherlands and French duo Jerome Champagne and David Ginola.

Figo was involved in a losing battle with the Spanish tax authorities in 2012 and was an ambassador for the unsuccessful Portugal/Spain 2018 World Cup bid that failed to co-operate with Michael Garcia’s FIFA investigation into corruption surrounding Qatar’s successful nomination as hosts for the 2022 edition.

“This is a great honor for the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF),” president Fernando Gomes said on Thursday.

“We stated at the beginning of our mandate we would do our utmost to elevate the FPF’s influence and standing in the decision-making bodies of international football. Luis Figo (is) a person whose tremendous qualities we readily recognize.”

Minister for Sport Emídio Guerreiro also offered government backing for the former midfield playmaker.

“The candidacy of a Portuguese for one of the highest offices in world sport demonstrates that our country continues to reveal itself capable and competent in the face of the most important challenges,” said Guerreiro.

Chelsea’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho and Southampton coach Ronald Koeman who, like Figo, played for Barcelona, also backed the former playmaker’s bid.

Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira was another supporter.

“It is not just pride in that he is Portuguese but in acknowledging that he knows football like few others and knows what is needed to improve it,” said Vieira.

On Wednesday, Figo commented: “I have a great love of football but when I look at FIFA and its current image I don’t like it.

“If you search on the internet with the word FIFA the first word that comes up is “scandal”. So we have to change FIFA because football deserves much better.”

Blatter is the overwhelming favorite to win the election.