Former Portugal international Luis Figo confirmed on Friday he has obtained the backing letters of six national football associations, with five being the minimum, to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency.
“I am happy to confirm that my six backing letters have been sent to FIFA this week ahead of the deadline,” the 42-year-old former Real Madrid and Barcelona star said on his Twitter account.
FIFA’s electoral commission must now validate or refuse, within approximately ten days, the candidates eligible to challenge the long-serving Blatter at the May 29 elections.
Figo, is now in the running along with Asian Football Confederation vice-president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, Dutch football chief Michael van Praag, ex-FIFA executive Jerome Champagne and former French winger David Ginola.
Van Praag also revealed he has backed by six associations including Belgium, Sweden, Scotland, Romania, the Faroe Islands and naturally the Netherlands.
Van Praag and Jordanian Prince Ali appear to have the strongest cases to overthrow Blatter, who is bidding for a fifth term, but has come in for a barrage of criticism over the voting process that led to Russia being given the rights to host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 tournament.
Figo found support in the form of compatriot and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho on announcing his decision.
“Luis Figo’s candidacy is a great step forward for football. His career over many years guarantees a better future for FIFA,” said Mourinho.
“I believe in his character and determination as well as his passion for the game. He will be a president focussed on football and its general improvement, acting closely with all federations.”
Blatter on Thursday submitted his candidature and is favourite to be re-elected.
“Today (Thursday) is a key date in the electoral calendar. I’ve made my submission, now the electoral committee follow a process,” the 78-year-old Swiss wrote on his Twitter account.
Blatter, who has held the post since 1998, had already indicated his intention to seek another term, and has wide support in Asia, Africa and Oceania.
It has yet to be confirmed whether Ginola and fellow Frenchman Champagne have won the necessary backing of five associations.
“I am waiting for one or two confirmations to present the five backing letters,” Ginola told AFP on Thursday.
“Obviously it is very difficult, difficult to bring a message to a system that is so locked. But I remain confident and we’re still in the race,” added the former international who is being paid Â£250,000 ($376,000, 332,000 euros) to stand by a betting company and was looking to generate money for his bid via crowd-funding.