Monday January 26th, 2015

Dutch football association president Michael van Praag announced on Monday his intentions to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency.

Van Praag is the first would-be challenger to Blatter to announce he has the required five nominations from FIFA's member federations. He is expected to send his official candidacy letter along with the five declarations of support to FIFA headquarters on Tuesday. The entry deadline is Thursday, four months before the May 29 ballot.

Although Van Praag presented his campaign intentions to the UEFA executive committee, the association is not formally endorsing him as its candidate.

"There is no candidate of UEFA, as a matter of fact," UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said at a post-meeting news conference, according to the Associated Press. "What we provide at UEFA is a platform for everyone to express (his) view. It is certainly positive for football that there is more than one candidate."

Earlier Monday, Blatter said members of the UEFA "don't have the courage" to overtake him in the upcoming presidential election, the BBC reports.

Blatter, 78, is seeking re-election for a fifth term in May. Under his leadership, FIFA has come under scrutiny for a lack of transparency, particularly during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which were awarded to Russia and Qatar.

He is viewed as the overwhelming favorite to win the election and called out his critics in UEFA.

"All those who want to get rid of me should come," Blatter said. "All this opposition is coming now, it's unfortunate to say - but it's true - it's coming from UEFA.

"They don't have the courage to come in. So let me go [on] - be respectful."

• USWNT sets pre-World Cup, send-off schedule

In addition to van Praag, three other candidates have declared their intentions to run against Blatter. FIFA's former international relations director Jerome Champagne announced in September that he will run, and FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein confirmed his intentions to run earlier this month.

Former French midfielder David Ginola announced earlier this month that he will run. He is reportedly being paid $380,000 by a bookmaker to challenge Blatter.

Voting for the presidency will be held on May 29 in Zurich.

• ABNOS: USMNT names roster for Chile, Panama friendlies

- Josh Sanchez and Mike Fiametta

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