KNVB leader Michael van Praag to run for FIFA president against Sepp Blatter
Netherlands football federation president Michael van Praag says he will run against Sepp Blatter in the upcoming FIFA presidential election.
In a statement, the Dutch federation (KNVB) said Van Praag already has the support of five national federations, a requirement for pursuing FIFA's top position.
"I'm very worried about the deteriorating situation at FIFA. The public opinion, the trustworthiness, is very bad, and with me a lot of people in the world believe so," Van Praag said.
At the World Cup last June, Van Praag said Blatter was "ultimately responsible" for FIFA's global image.
"I was hoping a credible new fresh face would stand up to do it, but unfortunately that is not the case, so that is why I decided to take my own responsibility, especially after what I said in Sao Paulo, and therefore I'll go for it," Van Praag said on Monday.
Van Praag is the former president of Ajax and has been a member of UEFA's executive committee since 2009, a CV he says makes him ideally suited to lead FIFA.
"The FIFA has to be normalised and the FIFA has to be modernised," he said. "And in my business life, but also in Ajax and also in my [Dutch] association I went through this exercise many, many times, so I have a lot of experience in that aspect. So I believe I am the right person to do it."
The announcement of Van Praag's candidacy came just hours after Blatter accused European nations of not having the "courage'' to provide a challenge to his leadership, and called on UEFA to be "respectful'' of his wish to continue in the role.
Speaking in an interview with CNN World Sport, the 78-year-old Blatter responded to recent criticism from European federations, saying: "All those who want to get rid of me should come. All this opposition is coming now, it's unfortunate to say, but it's true, it's coming from Nyon, from UEFA. They don't have the courage to come in. So let me go [on] -- be respectful."
Van Praag joins former FIFA executive Jerome Champagne, Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan and former Tottenham winger David Ginola as candidates who have declared their intention to stand against Blatter, who is seeking a fifth term in office.
KNVB secretary general Bert van Oostveen added: "It is clear that something has to change in FIFA to restore credibility. Michael is the right man for this. The KNVB will fully support him in his campaign."
Van Praag will formally announce his candidacy at a news conference in Amsterdam on Wednesday.
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said the European governing body would not be formally backing either Van Praag or Prince Ali.
He told a news conference: "We have heard about Prince Ali and we have heard about Michael van Praag and it is good there is a proper discussion. We are an open democracy, we have different views and the important thing is everyone can express his views."
Van Praag said he had obtained the minimum five nominations from national associations, while David Ginola is expected to be forced to withdraw as a FIFA candidate on Thursday after failing to gain the required nominations.