Michel Platini will run for Fifa president and plans to announce his intentions this week.
Officials familiar with Platini’s plans have revealed that the Fifa vice president has made a decision to try to succeed Sepp Blatter.
They report that the Uefa president and former France great has been encouraged to run by most leaders of Fifa’s continental confederations.
Five of the six continental leaders, including Platini, were in St Petersburg, Russia, last week for Fifa meetings and the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw, though Platini declined to discuss his ambitions when askedduring his visit.
The Fifa election is on 26 February and would-be candidates must apply by 26 October.
Platini is set to be the first serious contender to announce he will stand, two months after Blatter was re-elected for a fifth four-year term.
Two former Fifa vice presidents from Asia are also possible contenders. Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, who lost a 133-73 vote to Blatter on 29 May with Platini’s public support, and South Korean politician Chung Mong-joon have made public statements about the election in recent days.
Blatter was Platini’s long-time mentor in Fifa politics until a rift developed as the 79-year-old Swiss hung on to office in recent years.
After 17 years as Fifa president, Blatter said on 2 June he was standing down, under pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating senior Fifa officials.
Platini has not been linked to any wrongdoing, though his vote for Qatar as 2022 World Cup host has proved controversial. He was the first Fifa executive committee member to reveal his vote in the December 2010 hosting ballots that also gave the 2018 event to Russia.
Platini, who turned 60 last month, chose last year not to oppose Blatter in the recent election. “Now is not my time, not yet,” Platini said last August in Monaco when announcing he would focus on getting a third term at Uefa, which he won in March unopposed for a second straight time.
His rise to the top job in Europe in 2007 owed a little to Blatter’s help and showed how much recent history they share in the game of soccer politics. Platini ousted veteran Uefa leader Lennart Johansson in a 27-23 vote which perhaps swung on his promise to add eight teams to the European Championship. The 24-team event will debut in France in June. Blatter also beat Johansson to get his Fifa job, in a 1998 election dogged by allegations of late vote-buying by supporters of Blatter.
Then, Platini was doing double duty as head of the 1998 World Cup organising committee and as a campaign manager for Blatter. There is no suggestion Platini was involved in election wrongdoing.
Platini joined Blatter in Zurich after a successful World Cup, won by France, as a presidential adviser for four years.
In eight years leading European football, Platini has tried to please less powerful voting federations by giving their national and club teams better chances to advance in Uefa competitions. Second-tier matches such as the Europa League final and Super Cup have been sent to Romania, Switzerland, Wales and Georgia.
In Platini’s Euro 2020 project, 13 countries will host the continent-wide tournament, including Azerbaijan and Hungary.
However, during Platini’s reign, the Champions League has been dominated by an elite group of wealthy clubs from the richest football nations. His signature “Financial Fair Play” policy designed to curb clubs overspending has seemed only to cement the elite in place.
If elected Fifa’s ninth president in 112 years, and third Frenchman, Platini will be the best player to occupy the office.
Platini is among the great No 10s in history. He won three Ballon d’Or awards as the best player in Europe, and lifted two of the three biggest team prizes open to him.
He captained France to win the 1984 European Championship – his nine-goal performance in his home country ranks among the finest individual tournament displays – and scored the winning goal for Juventus in the 1985 European Cup final. Only Fifa’s World Cup eluded him. France lost semi-final matches to West Germany in 1982 and 1986.
Platini’s achievements would be neatly completed by becoming Fifa president. .