Former Brazil international star Zico has withdrawn his bid for the FIFA presidency after he attracted meagre support to stand for the role.
Zico launched a manifesto last month, casting himself as a renewal candidate pledging democracy and transparency at the scandal-ridden organisation, along with a commitment to advance the increased use of technology to assist match officials.
But the 62-year-old failed to garner the support of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), and only won the backing of two national federations – footballing minnows Angola and Sao Tome and Principe.
Zico and other prospective candidates required the support of five national federations ahead of Monday’s deadline to enter the running.
The Brazilian appeared to lay the blame for him falling short of the threshold at the door of European governing body UEFA, which made a surprise move on Monday to back its general secretary Gianni Infantino in the election as the organisation’s president Michel Platini contests the FIFA suspension that appears certain to scupper his ambitions for world football’s top job.
“We were very excited yesterday with the promise of six letters of support,” Zico said in a post on his campaign’s Facebook page. “But, today, with the movement made by UEFA, with the exit of Platini, the scenario changed completely.”
Outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Platini are currently provisionally suspended from FIFA for 90 days in relations to an alleged “disloyal payment”, throwing the race to replace the long-serving Blatter into a state of flux ahead of a proposed February 26 election next year.
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, Liberia FA chief Musa Bility and Asian Football Confederation president, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, formally confirmed their candidacies on Monday.