Dutch Football Association (KNVB) president Michael van Praag has ruled himself out of contesting the next FIFA election, instead backing suspended UEFA chief Michel Platini.
Van Praag had been a candidate to run against Sepp Blatter in the election won by the incumbent Swiss against his only rival, Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Hussein, in May.
The Dutchman withdrew from contention a week before that vote.
With FIFA then rocked by arrests and investigations into alleged corruption, Blatter subsequently announced he would step down from his position following a new election in February.
The timing of the 79-year-old’s departure was taken out of his hands last week, when FIFA suspended its own president after he became the subject of a specific criminal investigation by Swiss prosecutors.
And despite UEFA president Michel Platini, Europe’s preferred candidate to succeed Blatter, also receiving a FIFA ethics committee ban, Van Praag is adamant he will not be running.
“I’m not ready to be FIFA president. I’m not going to do that,” he was quoted as saying by NOS.
“As UEFA we don’t think it’s a good idea to nominate a second candidate. If you do that, you suggest you don’t really trust Platini.
“I don’t want to speculate about it. You don’t achieve anything by saying ‘if’, ‘if’, ‘if’. First we will see how the case with Platini ends. But I heard some other countries mention my name today.”
UEFA has issued a staunch defence of Platini following meetings of its executive committee and all member nations.
Platini is a person of interest to the Swiss prosecutors investigating Blatter due to a payment of £1.35million received by the former France international in 2011.
The Ballon d’Or, European Championship and European Cup winner has claimed the money was payment from FIFA for work undertaken between 1998 and 2002.
The 60-year-old is now serving a 90-day ban that renders him unable to campaign for the right to lead world football’s governing body, leaving Van Praag to offer something of an ambiguous message of support.
“UEFA appreciates Platini’s work,” he said.
“We support him, because he deserves to get a fair trial and a quick sentencing, if there’s going to be a conviction.
“A conviction could also mean that Platini will be exonerated. With this process, you get the time to sort everything out. The moral side in this matter is hard for me, but let’s talk about that later.”
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