It is official, Portugal legend Luis Figo is in the running to be the next FIFA president. The 42-year-old will certainly face a battle to unseat the incumbent president Sepp Blatter when his latest term comes to an end in May but he is backed by a number of influential figures in the game and he has the credentials to do the job.
For us ordinary football fans, the FIFA presidency seems distant and it is hard to get too concerned about an election which seemingly has little to do with our playing or watching experience. Indeed, if the football betting experts at blue sq and other sites are to be believed, it is already a foregone conclusion.
As the world governing body, FIFA have had to deal with allegations of scandal after scandal in recent years and have also been alleged to have allowed money to become the dominant consideration. The awarding of the World Cup to Qatar could be viewed as a prime example of where finance has overruled common sense. It also seems that the thoughts of fans, players and coaches have been completely disregarded by those in power in this case.
Figo, as a seasoned international with experience of having played in two World Cups and three European Championships, would bring pragmatism to the presidency. If not necessarily knowing what fans want and need, he at least knows the views of players. He would not have allowed the World Cup to be degraded in such a way.
Strength of Character
In his first announcements as a presidential candidate, Figo has set the right tone. Unlike others who may have interests inside the organisation already, he recognises that FIFA’s reputation needs rebuilding and recognises that at this stage it is an organisation synonymous with alleged scandal. If Figo is to be successful, he will need to show guts and determination. He will need all of the strength of character that he showed when he left Barcelona for Real Madrid in 2000. As football fans there is little we can do to influence the outcome of the election but, for the future of our game, we must hope desperately that Figo, or a man like him, is able to succeed.