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Luis Figo announces bid for FIFA presidency

Updated: 2015-01-29 09:24

Luis Figo announces bid for FIFA presidency

Portuguese former soccer player Luis Figo runs with the ball during a UNICEF Soccer Aid charity match at Old Trafford in Manchester in this June 6, 2010 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]

Figo has little experience of sports administration, but said a mood for change exists.

"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," the 42-year-old Portuguese said.

Figo's entry into the race complicates Europe's strategy, potentially splitting support for him and Van Praag among the 53 UEFA voters, including some traditional Blatter loyalists. UEFA is the only one of FIFA's six continental bodies actively opposing Blatter.

Figo was UEFA's ambassador for the Champions League final in Lisbon last year, and Van Praag is an elected member of UEFA's executive board which met on Monday.

The need for a European candidate was created last August when UEFA president Michel Platini opted not to stand against Blatter, while encouraging rivals for his 78-year-old former mentor.

Platini's spokesman Pedro Pinto welcomed Figo's entry.

Figo's paid contract with Asian gambling operator Dafabet, including as an ambassador for its 2014 World Cup promotion, has now ended, the firm said.

"Now that Luis has decided to stand for FIFA presidency it has been mutually agreed to end the ambassador contract, so he can concentrate his time fully on his campaign," Dafabet's head of sports marketing and sponsorship, John Cruces, wrote in an email reply.

The winning candidate needs two-thirds of the votes for victory in a first round of secret voting in Zurich, or a simple majority in subsequent rounds.

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