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Football: Van Praag drops bid for FIFA presidency


Michael van Praag

Michael van Praag

Dutch FIFA presidential candidate Michael van Praag on Wednesday announced he was dropping his bid for the world football body’s presidency, saying he will back Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al Hussein instead against incumbent Sepp Blatter.

“After thorough deliberation and reflection with different involved parties and stakeholders, Michael van Praag decided to withdraw his candidacy to become the next FIFA president,” his public relations team said in a statement.

Van Praag will now “join forces with presidential candidate Prince Ali bin al Hussein,” said the statement, issued from Amsterdam.

Van Praag, 67, is to give a news conference at 1800 GMT at an Amsterdam hotel to explain his decision and Prince Ali will also make a statement.

Dutch football boss Van Praag was one of three challengers to long-time FIFA president Blatter and were said to be facing an uphill battle to dethrone the Swiss veteran in an election on May 29.

Van Praag, a former Ajax chairman announced his candidacy in January, saying he wanted to modernise the world governing body “which has lost all credibility.”

FIFA had become ridden with suspicion, conflicts of interest and allegations of nepotism and corruption, Van Praag said at the time.

Apart from Van Praag and Prince Ali, former Portugal football star Luis Figo is also a contender — all three campaigning for change following scandals including over the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Observers said Prince Ali stood the best chance to unseat Blatter because the Jordanian had a better campaign budget and contacts within FIFA.

Blatter, 79 is a strong favourite to win a fifth term at the head of the world’s most powerful sporting federation.

The election will be held at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 29.

The winner will need a majority from FIFA’s 209 member federations. Blatter has received strong public backing from nearly every regional confederation except Europe’s UEFA.

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