Brazil legend Zico wants to stand for FIFA presidency

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FIFA president Sepp Blatter celebrates receiving South Africa's highest honour the Order of the companion in Johannesburg, South Africa on Wednesday, June 9, 2010.

Brazilian great Zico is the latest former professional footballer intent on succeeding FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Frenchman David Ginola and Portugal’s Luis Figo both threw their hats into the ring ahead of last month’s presidential election, only to both ultimately pull out of the race.

Blatter went on to be re-elected for a fifth term, before announcing his resignation following the launch of separate investigations by the U.S. and Swiss authorities into alleged corruption within FIFA.

The election of Blatter’s successor is believed to be set for December, and former Brazil star Zico, whose full name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, wants to shake up the way world football is run.

“I would like to confirm the decision to be a candidate,” Zico told a news conference in Rio de Janeiro. “I feel I am capable. For sure, certain rules need to change.

“It’s sad for our sport to see what is happening in football today — the corruption… and the hard work of many other good people wasted.

“I see it as my duty to use my experience and knowledge to try and stand for the presidency.”

Former France international Ginola, whose bid was controversially backed by betting company Paddy Power, withdrew from the presidential race in January after failing to receive the backing of five football federations required to stand in the election.

The 48-year-old Ginola, however, has said in the wake of Blatter’s resignation that he wants to put himself forward once again.

Ex-Portugal captain Figo, meanwhile, pulled out just a week before the election, referring to the process as “a plebiscite for the delivery of absolute power to one man — something I refuse to go along with.”

Zico, who represented his nation at three World Cups but never won the competition, admits he may also struggle to gather enough support like his fellow ex-professionals.

“That need to have five federations behind you, I think that is where the corruption starts,” said the Brazilian.

“Of course, changes in the rules of the game would be necessary. Mainly because with the rules in place now there isn’t the slightest possibility [of being elected].”

Zico has little administrative experience in the world of football but said it was after speaking to Figo that he decided to stand for the role of FIFA president.

“I was asked if I had talked with Figo about his being a candidate for FIFA,” he said. “I said I had and that set me thinking.”

Considered one of Brazil’s greatest ever players, Zico played most of his club football with Brazilian side Flamengo, before moving to play in Italy and Japan.

The 62-year-old has also coached all over the world, taking charge of the Japan and Iraq national teams as well as the likes of Turkish side Fenerbahce and Russian club CSKA Moscow.

FIFA raid

Meanwhile FIFA has handed over computer data to the Swiss authorities following a raid of the governing body’s headquarters.

Swiss authorities opened an investigation into corruption involving the bidding processes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups last month.

The Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) spokesperson confirmed the seizure of IT data to CNN.

“Today, FIFA handed over seized IT Data to the OAG,” a statement read. “As already communicated, the OAG has opened criminal proceedings against persons unknown.

“The OAG is currently analyzing seized data and information. The OAG won’t go into details as criminal proceedings are still under way.”

Reportedly Blatter is believed to be among those whose office was involved in the raid, while data from the offices of secretary general Jerome Valcke and the organization’s financial chief Markus Kattner is also said to have been released to Swiss police.

Emirates ‘glad’

Emirates CEO Tim Clark has also spoken out about his company’s decision not to renew its sponsorship deal with FIFA in November.

Clark said Emirates chose not to renew with FIFA because the commercial terms were not right, but added it could make a U-turn when Blatter departs and “if things are sorted out in FIFA.”

“We are glad we’re not in the space at the moment because of the fallout over the last few weeks,” Clark told CNN’s Richard Quest.

“It is a big pity, the big loser of course is football. Let’s hope we can get it back onto some kind of track, it becomes the beautiful sport that it is, the sponsors are back in competing against each other to get on the tournament, because it is a hugely competitive battle to get that kind of exposure, but it’s worth it.”

A number of current FIFA sponsors have warned the governing body to clean up its act in light of the corruption scandal, while Sony last week demanded an investigation into allegations over the controversial awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Tom Sweetman