LONDON (AFP) - Argentina legend Diego Maradona has attacked world football chief Sepp Blatter, calling the 79-year-old Swiss "a dictator" and claiming his bid for a fifth term as FIFA president is "an absurdity".
Maradona's scathing personal attack in The Daily Telegraph comes days before Blatter seeks an unprecedented fifth term at the helm of football's governing body.
Blatter is in a two horse race to continue in the post he assumed in 1998 - the only other candidate being Prince Ali Al Hussein of Jordan after Luis Figo and Michael van Praag pulled out last week.
Blatter has been widely criticised during his reign and Maradona is aghast that he is the overwhelming favourite to retain his position.
The 1986 World Cup winner told The Telegraph: "Under Sepp Blatter, Fifa has become a disgrace and a painful embarrassment to those of us who care about football deeply.
"While I find almost no one openly supporting Blatter, many think he will win a fifth term. Why? The whole notion of a fifth term is an absurdity in 2015.
"No one has argued that he is the best man for the job and deserves to win.
"Recently he pledged to follow through in addressing racism in football and promoting women in the sport. That made me laugh. My question is: 'Sepp, what were you doing in your last four terms?' "We have a dictator for life. I call Blatter 'the man of ice' because he lacks the inspiration and passion that are at the very heart of football. If this is the face of international football, we are in a very bad place."
The election takes place at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on Friday, with the winner needing a majority from FIFA's 209 member federations.
Blatter has received strong public backing from nearly every regional confederation except Europe's UEFA.
But the football strongman's fourth term has been overshadowed by controversy, not least over the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.