Could he be the man to save Fifa?

Diego Maradona at last month's Soccerex Asian Forum in Jordan. He is the third man to declare his candidacy for Fifa's top job, after the long-serving Sepp Blatter pledged to step aside despite being re-elected last month.
Diego Maradona at last month's Soccerex Asian Forum in Jordan. He is the third man to declare his candidacy for Fifa's top job, after the long-serving Sepp Blatter pledged to step aside despite being re-elected last month.PHOTO: REUTERS

Maradona, the controversial legend, wants to replace Blatter as president

PARIS - The race for the Fifa presidency has become interesting, with Argentinian football great Diego Maradona deciding to stand as a candidate.

The 54-year-old, famous for his "Hand of God" World Cup goal, is keen to replace Sepp Blatter, 79, according to Uruguayan journalist Victor Hugo Morales.

The Swiss announced at the start of this month that he will stand down as the governing body's president, a post he has held since 1998, following the corruption scandal that has rocked world football, and that an extraordinary congress will be called to elect his successor between December and February.

GAME ON

He told me he was going to run for president of Fifa and authorised me to inform (the media).

- Uruguayan journalist Victor Hugo Morales

Morales said Maradona told him of his intention when he called the former coach of the Argentina national team to check on the condition of his sick father on Sunday.

"He told me he was going to run for president of Fifa and authorised me to inform (the media)," Morales, famous around Latin America for his passionate commentary of Maradona's wonder goal against England at the 1986 World Cup, posted in Spanish on his Twitter feed.

"'I am a candidate' were the words Diego Maradona used to answer me when I consulted him about the nomination for the presidency of Fifa," he added in another tweet.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro had earlier this month suggested that Maradona become the next Fifa president.

Maradona has for long been a trenchant critic of Blatter and last month said he was "enjoying" the corruption scandal that led the Swiss to announce he would stand down.

However, like Brazilian Zico, another former great who has announced his candidacy, Maradona might struggle to get the support of five member associates.

The only other confirmed candidate is the Liberia Football Association chairman Musa Bility, 48, who famously broke ranks with the rest of the Confederation of African Football and declared that he would vote against Blatter in the 2011 Fifa presidential election.

It remains to be seen if Jordan's Prince Ali Al Hussein, 39, who lost to Blatter in last month's election, will be willing to be a candidate again.

Reports in Switzerland earlier this month claimed that Blatter could yet perform a stunning U-turn to remain Fifa president following encouragement from African and Asian members.

Fifa is due to confirm the date of the extraordinary congress on July 20, with Dec 14 likely to be when all 209 of its member associates will gather.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2015, with the headline 'Could he be the man to save FIFA?'. Print Edition | Subscribe