ZURICH (Reuters) - Michel Platini, the head of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, is to announce in the next few days that he will stand for the presidency of FIFA, a source close to the former France international told Reuters on Tuesday.
The 60-year-old Platini, a former France and Juventus midfielder, has been UEFA president since 2007 and had been widely expected to throw his hat into the ring to succeed Sepp Blatter, who announced his plan to stand down two months ago.
Platini’s impending announcement, expected before the end of the week, is likely to prompt other contenders to confirm their plans to stand.
South Korea’s Chung Mong-joon, a former FIFA vice-president, is expected to announce his candidacy next month, while Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, beaten by Blatter in May’s presidential vote, is also considering running in next February’s election.
The vote will be held at a special ‘elective congress’ in Zurich on Feb. 26.
Blatter, who has been president since 1998, was re-elected for a fifth term in May, but amidst the fall-out from the arrest of nine soccer officials, including some senior FIFA and ex-FIFA officials, he said he was “laying down” his mandate.
Platini has long been the bookmakers’ favorite to succeed Blatter and last week his supporters indicated that he has picked up widespread support from leaders of the continental confederations.
A former protege of Blatter’s, Platini turned into one of his biggest critics and he has said FIFA’s corruption scandal “disgusted” him and gave him “stomach trouble”.
But the Frenchman’s own critics will focus on his support for the 2022 World Cup to be held in Qatar.
Platini, part of the FIFA executive committee since 2002, voted for Qatar, despite FIFA’s own technical report flagging up concerns about the searing heat in the Gulf state.
That may be a difficult line of attack for his two possible Asian rivals to take however, given that Qatar is part of the Asian Football Confederation.
Three outsiders have also said they intend to run - Liberian FA chairman Musa Bility, former Brazil international Zico and ex-France winger David Ginola.
Ginola had intended to stand in May’s vote but was unable to get the five nominations from soccer federations needed to be a candidate -- a problem Zico has conceded he will probably encounter.
The deadline for candidates to formally present their nominations, with support, is Oct. 26 and they will also have to undergo integrity checks, led by Domenico Scala, head of the ad-hoc election committee.
Editing by Mitch Phillips/Ed Osmond: