Dutch football chief officially drops out of FIFA leadership race
KNVB chairman Michael van Praag is pulling out as candidate for the FIFA presidency to make space for Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, the Volkskrant reports based on sources close to FIFA.
According to the newspaper, Prince Ali has garnered the most support among the 209 signatory countries in the world football union and therefore stands the best chance to replace current FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Luis Figo is also expected to drop out of the race, making Prince Ali the only remaining candidate running against Blatter. Van Praag, Figo and Ali are expected to explain their decision in a joint press conference in the Netherlands on Thursday. If Figo decides not to withdraw, Van Praag will also get back into the race.
The election for the FIFA president will happen in Zurich next Friday. This election is surrounded by controversy due to persistent rumors about corruption in the union. Western European countries in particular hold Blatter responsible for FIFA's stained image and want to see him leave.
During the past four months Van Praag, Figo and Ali have been traveling over the world to convince union presidents of their qualities. Prince Ali had the most success - he visited the vast majority of countries with a virtually unlimited campaign budget, according to the Volkskrant. He has also been on the board of the world football union since 2011 and therefore has better contacts. All three candidates want Blatter to retire as FIFA president. Van Praag and Figo will now rally behind Ali.