Geneva — Michel Platini has launched his campaign to succeed
Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, aiming to give the scandal-hit governing body
"the dignity and the position it deserves."
Platini, the UEFA president and a FIFA vice president, wrote
to member federations in Europe on Wednesday saying he will stand in the
election and is counting on their support.
The FIFA election is on Feb. 26 and would-be candidates must
apply by Oct. 26.
"There are times in life when you have to take your
destiny into your own hands," wrote Platini, who turned 60 last month.
"I am at one of those decisive moments, at a juncture in my life and in
events that are shaping the future of FIFA."
Also read: UEFA head Platini to announce FIFA presidency bid
Platini has for years been the obvious candidate to succeed
Blatter, his mentor in FIFA politics. But a rift between the long-time allies
deepened when Blatter broke a promise to leave office in 2015.
The former France great chose last year not to oppose
Blatter, who won a fifth presidential term on May 29. Four days later, Blatter
announced his resignation plans under pressure from American and Swiss
investigations of corruption implicating FIFA.
"However, recent events force the supreme governing
body of world football to turn over a new leaf and rethink its
governance," said Platini, who has not been linked to any wrongdoing in
the two federal cases.
Still, Platini has been criticized for voting for Qatar as
2022 World Cup host, after seeming to be pressured by then-president of France,
Nicolas Sarkozy, ahead of the December 2010 ballot.
In his letter Wednesday, Platini said he wanted a FIFA that
is "exemplary ... that is respected, liked and of the people."
Platini chose to run after getting encouragement from some
of his fellow FIFA vice presidents last week in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Five of the six confederation leaders, including Platini,
were there for the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw with only the North American
regional body missing.
Platini then traveled to Philadelphia for the Gold Cup final
on Sunday, and briefed CONCACAF leaders on his plans. They included FIFA
executive committee colleague Sunil Gulati, the U.S. Soccer Federation
The U.S. body was among the five FIFA members which
nominated Prince Ali bin al-Hussein to challenge Blatter two months ago. The
Jordanian prince was publicly supported by Platini but Blatter had pockets of
support across Europe in a 133-73 victory.
Prince Ali, whose FIFA vice presidency expired on May 29,
has made public statements this month about FIFA's election and unclear reform
program, but did not confirm his intention to run.
Platini met the prince in the south of France last week and
discussed the FIFA election.
Though not the first would-be candidate to launch a formal
bid, Platini is the most serious contender in the contest so far.
Another former FIFA vice president, Chung Mong-joon of South
Korea, has suggested he will run after stating last week that he doubted
Platini was serious about wanting the job. Former Brazil great Zico and Liberia
federation president Musa Bility have said they want to seek the five nominations
required to be a candidate.
Platini signaled in his letter he would champion all of
FIFA's 209 member federations.
As UEFA leader since 2007, Platini has helped smaller
countries by adding eight teams to the now-24 nation European Championship,
changing qualifying routes for UEFA competitions and awarding them hosting
rights for Euro 2020, Europa League finals and Super Cup matches.
"As the president of UEFA, I have brought Europe
together on a unifying path," Platini wrote to the 53 FIFA voters in
Europe. "I gave all the national associations — big and small — the place
they deserved. Now, I aspire to do the same at world level, to offer all
national associations a common cause."
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