UEFA president Michel Platini has welcomed the emergence of three challengers to Sepp Blatter for the presidency of world football federation FIFA.
But the French head of the European governing body did not offer any opinion on whether either Prince Ali of Jordan, Dutch federation leader Michael Van Praag or Portugal’s Luis Figo might succeed.
In a video interview published by UEFA on YouTube Platini proclaimed the importance of a “debate” about the way in which the worldwide game is governed.
He said: “I think it was a very nice opportunity to open a debate for democratic reasons in the world of football and FIFA needs new ideas, new programmes.
“There are four candidates. Let’s see the programmes of the four candidates. But it’s important for football that there is a change in FIFA.”
Platini reiterated that he had not ruled out seeking the FIFA presidency at some time in the future.
Asked about his decision to stay on for the next four years as president of UEFA, he said: “It was not so easy a choice but I decided to stay where I feel well. I didn’t decide not to go to FIFA but to stay in UEFA. That’s a totally different matter.
“Perhaps it is not my time to go to FIFA. We will see one day if I go or don’t go.”
In terms of decision-making Platini insisted he listened to everyone around him – UEFA’s executive committee, its congress – before coming to any particular conclusions. He was not, he insisted, a “despot.”
Platini’s interview was aired after a weekend in which Blatter projected his presidential status after a meeting with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, concerning the 2022 World Cup finals in the Gulf state.
After the meeting Blatter had cautioned that Qatar needed to do more to improve the working and living conditions of migrant workers.
Blatter was seeking an official update ahead of the FIFA executive committee this week which is expected to confirm that the 2022 finals should be played in November and December and not in the traditional slot of June and July.
He said: “It is encouraging to hear the Emir’s personal commitment to workers’ welfare and to get a sense of the improvements planned for all workers in Qatar.
“As various human rights groups have recently noted, progress has been made . . . but more must be done in Qatar to ensure uniformly fair working conditions for all.
“This will only be possible through the collective effort of all stakeholders – from the construction companies to the authorities.”
Blatter’s visit to Doha came hard upon a call by outgoing FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger that Qatar should be stripped of the finals and suggestions that FIFA Congress may include a motion from critical associations to replace Qatar as host.
According to FIFA statutes any proposal for consideration must be submitted by March 29.