The Portuguese former midfielder Luis Figo, has said he would consider expanding the World Cup if he is elected FIFA president in May. He has also pledged to restore FIFA’s reputation by rebuilding the governing body’s credibility. “In the recent months and even years, I have seen the image of FIFA deteriorate,” Figo said. “I speak to many people in football, players, managers and association presidents, and they have told me something has to be changed. “I agree with them and this is why I want to become FIFA president. I’m not the kind of man who sits aside and refuses to act. I want a new style of leadership of FIFA that can restore transparency, cooperation and solidarity. In my manifesto I have outlined clearly how I would seek to restore FIFA’s credibility and rebuild trust in it. This will not be a quick fix, it requires fundamental changes but I’m ready to bring real changes to FIFA, changes that will bring a positive era for FIFA and every one of its member associations.”
Luis Figo opens soccer school
The main points of his manifesto would be the creation of school football projects in every member association country with at least 50 percent of FIFA’s solidarity fund spent on grass roots football pitches, balls and kits. Every member association must seek to increase the number of registered boys and girls playing football by at least 10 percent over the next four years. There would be radical change to the way FIFA distributes its solidarity payments. 50 percent of FIFA’s revenues, £1.62 billion, should be distributed directly to the national associations over four years. £650 million of FIFA’s £970 million reserves should be freed up and invested in football development. Independent experts state that £324 million is sufficient to cover the operational needs of FIFA in the unlikely event the World Cup will be postponed. He also stated that he would consider proposals to expand the World Cup from its current 32-team structure to a 40 or even 48-team competition. Both these options are feasible with an extra three to four days of tournament play with the additional teams to be drawn from non-European nations. He made recommendations for changes to the laws of the game including a debate over the use of additional technology, the end of the triple punishment rule, the testing of sin-bins for unsporting behaviour and return of the ‘old’ definition of the offside rule (a player is judged offside whether directly involved in play or not). His final point would be to ensure the full independence of the governance, audit and compliance committee to ensure good governance across the entire FIFA organisation. A FIFA football council should be established to advise the president and executive committee. It is very much this final point, which has received an interested reaction as two of the top candidates that he has put forward are David Beckham and Jose Mourinho, both who a very strong and vocal supporters of Fifo’s campaign.
The 42-year-old has played at clubs including Barcelona, Real and Inter during his career and won the Ballon d’Or in 2000 as well as the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2001 and is the only former footballer to be amongst the candidates for the May election. One can only hope that the best football predictions will turn out to be wrong and that Blatter will lose, for the good of the game and better still, maybe someone who actually likes playing football will win!