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Figo says Blatter win will be four lost years

By The Citizen
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Portuguese football legend Luis Figo, who is challenging for the FIFA presidency, said Monday that a new victory for incumbent Sepp Blatter would mean four lost years.

Figo, who said he is financing his own campaign, added that nearly every football leader he meets declares a desire for change but he did not know whether federations would turn against Blatter. All four will appear at the UEFA congress in Vienna on Tuesday though Blatter has refused to speak at the same time as his rivals.The 79-year-old FIFA president is favourite to win a fifth term at a congress on May 29. But Figo, FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein and Dutch federation chief Michael van Praag are standing against him.

'If nothing happens, it is going to be like losing four years of trying to modernise, trying to have more transparency because things will continue the same,' Figo told reporters.

'I am saying this to all the people I see in meetings and the feedback is positive.

'Most people say we think we need change, but you have to wait and see on May 29 if really they want change, or they want to continue to be managed like this,' added the 42-year-old former Barcelona and Real Madrid star.

All three opponents say they are standing because of FIFA's tarnished image after a storm of controversy over the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Figo, the Ballon d'Or winner in 2000, has promised more transparency and a greater say for national associations, as well as a 40 country World Cup.

Van Praag says he wants to cut costs and increase democracy. The 67-year-old former president of Ajax also said he would only stand for one four year term.

While Blatter has never faced such an array of challengers for the leadership of the richest sporting federation, he still has important backing in Africa and Asia.

'Sometimes you are afraid of change and the most important thing is to try to convince people that change is not a big deal,' said Figo.