Luis Figo takes name out of running for FIFA president, blasts the organization

Bitter pill to swallow, unaccustomed to politicking or simply another victim of corruption? Either way, former Real Madrid and Portuguese star Luis Figo announced he was stepping down from his run to become FIFA president.

It means a clear path for incumbent president Sepp Blatter, and it means the change so badly needed isn’t going to be coming anytime soon.

However, Figo wasn’t going to go quietly in to the night either — and boy did he lay it all out in a letter to the Associated Press, via Yahoo! Sports.

Figo identified many incidents of the seedy underbelly of the soccer world governing body and derided what he saw as shameful action. He made it clear that those incidents and his discussions with those inside and outside the organization indicate that change is badly needed within the organization.

“I traveled and met extraordinary people who, though they recognized the value of much that had been done, also concurred with the need for change, one that cleans up FIFA’s reputation as an obscure organization that is so often viewed as a place of corruption,” said Figo.

“But over the past few months I have not only witnessed that desire (for change), I have witnessed consecutive incidents, all over the world, that should shame anyone who desires soccer to be free, clean and democratic.”

FIFA is set to hold its election on May 29th and Figo went on to refuse to be a part of an election where one candidate gets a platform to speak his ideas and shuts down others from speaking to the same congresses or other groups within the organization.

“Does anyone think it’s normal that an election for one of the most relevant organizations on the planet can go ahead without a public debate,” asked Figo. “Does anyone think it’s normal that one of the candidates doesn’t even bother to present an election manifesto that can be voted on May 29? Shouldn’t it be mandatory to present such a manifesto so that federation presidents know what they’re voting for?

“That would be normal, but this electoral process is anything but an election.”

Some may see this move as a way for Figo to bow out gracefully, but he was anything but graceful in raking FIFA, Blatter and the “election” process over the coals. He put it pretty bluntly, and he certainly isn’t saying anything the fans don’t know after watching the last two World Cup announcements.

One thing is for sure, Figo wasn’t going to be afraid of what the election result would’ve been in a fair fight.

“I do not fear the ballot box, but I will not go along with nor will I give my consent to a process which will end on May 29 and from which soccer will not emerge the winner,” said Figo in his statement.

“My decision is made, I will not stand in what is being called an election for the FIFA presidency.”

“I offer my deepest thanks to all those who have supported me and I ask them to keep alive their desire for a regeneration which, though it may take some time, will come.”

Figo’s election would’ve been the earth-shattering change that the organization has long needed. However, it appears the time has come for this fight to come from changing those who are doing the electing as much as who heads the organization to begin with.

Corruption runs rampant in all the confederations, especially inside CONCACAF and CAF. Getting changes within the structure and leadership of those organizations alone would get the ball rolling towards sweeping change.

It just won’t be one of the most recognizable figures in the world game heading up those badly needed changes.

About Andrew Coppens

Andy is a contributor to The Comeback as well as Publisher of Big Ten site talking10. He also is a member of the FWAA and has been covering college sports since 2011. Andy is an avid soccer fan and runs the Celtic FC site The Celtic Bhoys. If he's not writing about sports, you can find him enjoying them in front of the TV with a good beer!

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