Van Praag withdraws from FIFA presidential race, supports Prince Ali
FIFA presidential candidate and Royal Dutch Football Association president Michael van Praag withdrew from the governing body's presidential election on Thursday, offering his support to FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.
Current FIFA president Sepp Blatter is running for a fifth term.
The election is set for May 29 in Zurich, when the 209 national federations will place their votes. A two-thirds majority is required in the first round of voting to win the election. If that fails, then a simple majority is required.
"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 and to join forces with presidential candidate Prince Ali," van Praag's campaign team said in a statement.
Former Portugal soccer great Luis Figo and Prince Ali remain the race to unseat Blatter, who is seeking his fifth four-year term. Blatter has been FIFA’s president since 1998.
Dutch paper De Volkskrant reports that Figo is also expected to step aside and support Prince Ali.
The 67-year-old van Praag, who is also a member of the UEFA executive committee, launched his candidacy in January, saying that the world’s governing soccer body had lost credibility because the organization was under suspicion of wrongdoing, “conflicts of interest, of nepotism, of corruption."
FIFA has been widely criticized for corruption, most prominently during the most recent World Cup bidding process. Russia and Qatar, who won the bidding for the 2018 and '22 World Cups, were accused of buying votes to secure a winning bid, but a FIFA investigation cleared both bids of any serious wrongdoing.
- Scooby Axson