UEFA president Michel Platini ruled himself out of the running for the most powerful job in football on Thursday, the Frenchman deciding not to oppose incumbent Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency next year.
Platini told the chairman and general secretaries of UEFA’s 54 member nations that he had decided not to stand against the 78-year-old Swiss, who will be seeking a fifth term when the election is held.
“This is the decision I have made. I wanted to do what is best for UEFA,” the 59-year-old former France international told reporters.
He had previously called for a “breath of fresh air” at FIFA and said during the recent World Cup in Brazil that a new mandate for Blatter would not be good for football.
UEFA member Michel D’Hooghe, who also sits on the FIFA executive committee, told reporters after meeting Platini that it was a very positive meeting and he was very pleased with the outcome.
“Mr Platini made it clear he has a very important job to do at UEFA and would remain as president and that decision has been warmly welcomed by everyone here,” the Belgian said.
The Frenchman’s decision was greeted with applause from the delegates and D’Hooghe added: “We think it is the right decision and I am pleased that at this time there will be no conflict between UEFA and FIFA over the presidency.”
The only person so far to declare his intention to run against Blatter is former FIFA deputy secretary general Jerome Champagne, 56, who announced his candidature in January and has recognised he is the underdog.
Blatter was first elected president in 1998 and possible candidates have until January to declare their intentions.
The signs were already pointing to Platini shying away from pitting himself against the controversial Blatter, with the Swiss counting on strong support outside Europe, before Thursday’s announcement.
In March he had said “there is only one person who can beat Blatter – me” but he also made it clear he was happy running UEFA and the decision would be a personal one.
Platini is young enough to bide his time and was seen as unlikely to beat Blatter, who will be 83 when his next mandate ends if he wins reelection.
That would make the Swiss a year older than his predecessor Jaoao Havelange was when the Brazilian relinquished the post 16 years ago.