Michel Platini has withdrawn his candidacy for the FIFA presidency in order to clear his name over allegations of corruption.
Platini is currently serving an eight-year ban from all football-related activity, a sanction handed down by the FIFA Ethics Committee, over an alleged “disloyal payment” made by Sepp Blatter to the Frenchman in 2011.
In an interview with French sports newspaper L’Equipe, an extract of which was published on Thursday, he said: “I no longer put myself forward to be president of FIFA, I have withdrawn my candidacy.
“I cannot do it, I do not have the time to see voters, meet people, to fight with the others.
“By removing myself, I have made the choice to dedicate myself to my defence against a dossier in which there is no mention of corruption, of falsification, forgery, where there is nothing any more.”
The election to replace Blatter, who is also serving an eight-year ban, at the head of the world game is scheduled for February 26.
Platini says the timeframe is simply too tight although that is not the only reason he is backing out.
“There is a timing issue but it’s not just that,” he added.
“How can one win an election when you are unable to campaign?”
Platini has hinted he will take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) but has been told by FIFA that route is closed until the governing body’s appeals committee first rejects his request.
Platini’s withdrawal means Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa and Tokyo Sexwale will stand in the election.
Former France and Juventus midfielder Platini suggested, however, that he would have received plenty of support had he been eligible to take part.
He added: “When Blatter retired, I received 150 declarations of support. A hundred official letters from federations and 50 promises. All that in two days.
“But today I have to take care of all the actions, follow the procedures – the CAS and the [electoral] commission chaired by Domenico Scala, who said that I had falsified accounts.
“I would have fought as I have always done in my life but I was not given the opportunity to compete this time around.”