KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Zico wants FIFA to change its election rules by lowering the bar for candidates and thus open the door to fringe contenders such as himself.
The old Brazilian World Cup star claims he can count on the support of his own football confederation but is still chasing the four other written nominations before the candidacy submission deadline of October 26.
Zico put his proposal to outgoing world federation president Sepp Blatter in Zurich yesterday, warning that without a change in rules the election at an extraordinary congress in the Swiss city next February 26 would “lack legitimacy.”
The five-nomination rule was enacted to prevent a repetition of events in 2011 when a journalist obtained a nomination to apply to be a candidate. The latest tightening of the rules also demands that contenders must have served in an active role in football in at least two of the previous five years.
Zico is hoping that the election rules issue could be discussed by the FIFA executive committee meeting in Zurich on Thursday and Friday though it would be too late to amend the regulations this time around.
He said: “For someone like me, even though I have devoted 45 years to football, this rule creates a real obstacle. I want to see this condition ended.”
Zico said a change in the rule was important to open up democracy within the process because otherwise confederation leaders could exert “pressure” and “threats” against potential candidates.
He added: “There is no independence in this vote and that needs to change. This system opens the possibility for corruption.”
Zico said he had received letters of encouragement from Italy and Japan, where he had enjoyed popularity as both player and coach, but these did not equate to nomination guarantees.
Even the Brazilian confederation has offered only conditional support, offering to support Zico if he can obtain four other nominations from elsewhere.
Favourite to win the election is Michel Platini, the French president of European federation UEFA. Zico said Platini’s election would stifle any prospect of reform.
He said: “He is a pillar of the FIFA structure as a long-serving member of the executive committee. I do not think that his election would bring reform. It would bring only a “greater concentration of football power in Europe.
“The rest of the world is being abandoned.”
Zico then directed his ire at CONMEBOL, the governing body of football in South America and whose senior officials and marketing consultants have been embroiled in the FIFAGate scandal.
He said that CONMEBOL had been of no value to Brazilian football and criticised the fact that it had appointed as director-general Gorka Villar, son of the long-time Spanish federation chair and FIFA vice-president Angel Villar.
Zico concluded: “We need to try to change things. We need to open the black box of FIFA. If we sit still, we will never change anything. We cannot go on like this.”
Other contenders struggling for nominations include former Nigeria captain Segun Odegbami, Liberia FA president Musa Bility, ex-Trinidad midfielder David Nakhid and Nigerian businessman Orji UZor Kalu.
South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale, head of FIFA’s Palestine-Israel monitoring panel, is still considering whether to run.
The other declared ‘heavyweight’, along with Platini, is South Korea’s former FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-joon.
Later Platini, asked about Zico’s comments, evinced little sympathy, saying: “He doesn’t have five nominations? I’m sorry but those are the rules. I cannot do anything.”