- Frenchman became president of European soccer's UEFA in 2007
- Blatter stepping down in February after election of new leader
Michel Platini, the head of European soccer’s governing body, will run to take over the presidency of FIFA, the sport’s troubled global organization.
Platini, 60, joins a group seeking to replace Joseph “Sepp” Blatter, who led FIFA for 17 years before saying earlier this year that he would step down next February, having lost the confidence of officials in the sport because of allegations of corruption. The FIFA vice president and former France midfielder is the bookmakers’ favorite.
“This was a very personal, carefully considered decision, one in which I weighed up the future of football alongside my own future,” Platini said in a statement on UEFA’s website. “Recent events force the supreme governing body of world football to turn over a new leaf and rethink its governance.”
Chung Mong Joon, a FIFA honorary vice president and the second-largest shareholder in South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., said he will be a candidate and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, who ran against Blatter in an election earlier this year, may participate in the Feb. 26 vote.
Prince Ali was the only opponent in May, when Blatter won a fifth term two days after the arrest of several senior officials. He said the following week he would step down. The U.S. Department of Justice said the charges stemmed from more than two decades of “rampant” corruption at the organization.
Platini was captain when France won the 1984 European Championship, and took part in three World Cups, scoring 41 times in his 72 appearances for the national team. He was a three-time European player of the year.
He took over as UEFA president in 2007 after holding posts on the executive committee, and has been re-elected twice. Platini is the 4-5 favorite at U.K. bookmaker William Hill, meaning a successful $5 bet will return $4 plus the original stake. Prince Ali is 7-4, with Blatter 6-1.
In May, Swiss investigators seized documents and data from FIFA’s hilltop headquarters in Zurich as part of widening U.S. Justice Department investigation into the controversial 2010 vote that ended with Russia and Qatar being selected to host the next two World Cup tournaments. That same investigation resulted in the arrest and indictments of 14 soccer officials and executives when they gathered in Switzerland.
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