Luis Figo will no longer run for president of Fifa and has described the 29 May ballot as “not a normal electoral act”.
In a statement posted on his FaceBook page, the former Fifa world player of the year and retired Portuguese winger says we should count him out of what he says is a referendum “for the delivery of absolute power to one man.”
Figo continued: “That is why, after a personal reflection and sharing views with two other candidates in this process, I believe that what is going to happen on May 29 in Zurich is not a normal electoral act.
“And because it is not, don’t count on me.”
Figo’s announcement came hours after president of the Dutch Football Federation Michael van Praag – another of the four proposed candidates- also withdrew.
This now leaves incumbent Sepp Blatter and Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan in the running to assume the top job in world football for the next four years. Swiss administrator, Blatter, 79, is bidding for a fifth term, while Prince Ali is Fifa vice-president for Asia and head of the Jordanian FA.
Blatter, who has been at the helm of world’s football since 1998, has gained increasing supports from most of the Confederations, except Europe, making him favourite for re-election.
President of the Confederation of African Football (Caf), Issa Hayatou pledged “total support” from all 54 members of the regional body for Blatter during their Annual General Assembly in March.
The president of the Dominican Republic federation, Osiris Guzman, compared the Fifa chief to Moses, Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr as well as Jesus and Mandela at the CONCACAF Congress last month.
“I have seen with my own eyes federation presidents who, after one day comparing FIFA leaders to the devil, then go on stage and compare those same people with Jesus Christ. Nobody told me about this. I saw it with my own eyes,” Figo, who along with Van Praag and Prince Ali were present in Cairo and the Bahamas but we’re not allowed to address the federations, said.
“The candidates were prevented from addressing federations at congresses while one of the candidates always gave speeches on his own from the rostrum. There has not been a single public debate about each candidate’s proposals.
“Does anyone think it’s normal that an election for one of the most relevant organizations on the planet can go ahead without a public debate? Does anyone think it’s normal that one of the candidates doesn’t even bother to present an election manifesto that can be voted on May 29? Shouldn’t it be mandatory to present such a manifesto so that federation presidents know what they’re voting for?”
Figo had, in February, said he would consider a bigger World Cup of possibly 40 to 48 teams, sin bins and offside law changes if elected as president of Fifa.
All other candidates had called for televised presidential debate, except Blatter who immediately opted out.
The former Real Madrid and Barcelona winger also planned to spread half of Fifa’s $2.25bn revenue over four years to associations to fund grassroots football. He said $1bn of Fifa’s $1.5bn wealth reserves should be redistributed to the 209 affiliate national federation.
“The realm of a sport which gave me everything to become what I am, and to which I now offered to give something back, is hungry for change. FIFA needs change and I feel that the change is urgent,” he added.
“For my part, I will abide by the ideas I leave written and have circulated, I am firm in my desire to take an active part in the regeneration of FIFA and I will be available for it whenever it is proven to me that we are not living under a dictatorship.
“I do not fear the ballot box, but I will not go along with nor will I give my consent to a process which will end on May 29 and from which soccer will not emerge the winner.”