Dutch football chief van Praag to challenge Blatter

Dutch football chief Michael van Praag on Monday announced he would stand against FIFA president Sepp Blatter in May’s election for the top job in football.

Last year, van Praag publically urged 78-year-old Blatter not to stand for what would be a fifth four-year-term.

“I like you a lot, there is nothing personal here, but the reputation of FIFA is today inextricably linked to corruption,” he told Blatter at FIFA’s Congress in Brazil in June, 2014.

“FIFA has a president. You are responsible, you should not stand again,” van Praag declared.

Van Praag announced his intent to stand in the May 29 election at UEFA’s executive committee meeting in Nyon on Monday.

Other potential candidates hoping to take on Blatter are Jerome Champagne, a former FIFA executive, ex-France international David Ginola, and Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, Asian Football Confederation vice-president.

Van Praag, in a statement released by the Dutch football federation, declared himself “very concerned about FIFA, and everyone is aware of that”.

“It’s time that the body is normalised and that it once again focuses on football,” he added, saying he’d stepped forward after waiting in vain for another credible candidate to emerge.

Dutch federation secretary general Bert van Oostveen backed van Praag’s bid, saying: “It’s obvious that FIFA needs to restore its credibility and Michael is the man to do that”.

The deadline for potential candidates to put their names forward falls on Thursday for an election that will shape FIFA’s direction until after the next World Cup in Russia in 2018.

Blatter has become a deeply divisive figure in football following a series of scandals including over the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.

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