Portugal welcomes Figo's decision to challenge Blatter for FIFA presidency
Lisbon, Jan 29 (IANS) Portuguese football institutions welcomed former star Luis Figo's decision to bid for FIFA presidency.
The 42-year-old Portuguese great, a former Real Madrid star and Barcelona forward, was backed by compatriot Jose Mourinho, who said that Figo would guarantee a better future for FIFA, reports Xinhua.
"Luis Figo's candidature is good news for football. His career is a guarantee for FIFA's future," said Mourinho Wednesday.
Figo will enter the race to challenge 78-year-old Sepp Blatter, who has headed FIFA since 1998, joining opponents Prince Ali of Jordan, Michael van Praag, head of Dutch football, and David Ginola, former Tottenham player.
Portugal's secretary of state for sports Emidio Guerreiro said Figo's bid reflected the competency of Portuguese people.
"The application of a Portuguese person to one of the highest positions of the world's sports sector is always a reason to celebrate and shows that our country has competent cadres that are at the level of the most important challenges like the bid for FIFA presidency," he said.
Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) president Fernando Gomes said it was an honour for the body to support Figo's candidature, who he said was a person capable of taking up the role.
"It is an enormous honour for FPF to support Luis Figo's candidacy to the presidency of FIFA," said Gomes pointing out Figo's "enormous courage" in taking the decision.
"I recognise that Luis Figo has enormous capacities to take up the role in full, if he ends up being elected. The process won't be easy. It's a difficult election but Luis, with his tenacity and capability, will not fail to express his viewpoints on what football needs," he added.
Gomes highlighted that Figo could "contribute with his knowledge, with his dedication and his work to do something for football".
The Lisbon Football Federation also congratulated Figo for his decision, describing it as a "unique opportunity for amateur football to gain a higher voice in the international football scene".
And the Portuguese syndicate for Professional Football Players said it shared "without exception, the concerns Luis Figo has which should be shared by everyone who praise this modality" and pointed to the need for FIFA to "be respected again and nurtured in the whole world".
The syndicate added: "Luis Figo's candidacy belongs to everyone who believes in more compassionate and transparent football" and said he could count on the support of all professional Portuguese football players.
Figo was voted World Player of the Year twice and scored 32 goals for Portugal in 127 matches. The potential candidates have until Thursday to register their interest for the position, four months before the ballot May 29.