Platini on course for FIFA presidency after securing Asian backing
Michel Platini was on course last night to become the next head of world football after deciding to stand for the Fifa presidency.
Platini, the Uefa president, was expected to announce his candi-dacy at some point today, having gained enough pledges of support to be confident of winning the battle to succeed Sepp Blatter.
The Frenchman, one of Blatter's eight vice-presidents, is thought to have secured the backing of the leadership of four of Fifa's six continental confederations, which may make him unbeatable in the ballot on February 26.
Platini, 60, proved last year he was prepared to enter the race only if he was set to win when he refused to stand against his mentor-turned-rival Blatter, who was re-elected at the end of May two days after the governing body was engulfed by the worst crisis in its history.
The arrest of several senior football officials on multimillion-pound fraud charges forced Blatter, 79, to announce his resignation less than four days later.
Platini is likely to face opposition from South Korea's Chung Mong-joon, a former Fifa vice-president, who is expected to announce his candidacy in the coming weeks. Jordan's Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, whom Blatter defeated in the presi-dential vote in May, is also con-sidering running.
However, with Platini having gained the support of two of Asia's biggest powerbrokers, Fifa executive committee members Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, the two hopefuls will struggle to attract votes from within their own confederation.
A former protege of Blatter, Platini became one of his biggest critics, saying Fifa's corruption scandal "disgusted" him and gave him "stomach trouble".
However, the Frenchman's own detractors will focus on his support for the 2022 World Cup finals tournament to be held in Qatar.
Platini, who has been part of the Fifa executive committee since 2002, voted for the Gulf State, despite the governing body's own report flagging up concerns about the searing heat there.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)