Brazil football legend Zico to run for FIFA presidency

Brazilian footballing legend Zico confirmed Wednesday his intention to stand for FIFA president, after Sepp Blatter announced last week he was stepping down from the position.

“I see it as my duty to use my experience and knowledge to try to run for the presidency,” the 62-year-old football coach and former midfielder told a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, adding “I feel I am capable of doing this.”

Zico, whose real name is Arthur Antunes Coimbra, had previously said that he was mulling a run for the post, but was concerned he may struggle to find enough support, as candidates need the backing of at least five football federations.

But Wednesday’s announcement came with more confidence, and a warning that the election needed to change to rid the sport of corruption.

“It’s sad for our sport to see what is happening in football today,” Zico said, accusing the current process of fomenting corruption.

Blatter announced June 2 that despite his re-election to a fifth term as president four days earlier, he would be stepping down from the position he has held since 1998.

It followed a U.S. investigation that resulted in 14 FIFA officials indicted on bribery and racketeering charges. Seven of the officials were arrested in Zurich two days before Blatter’s re-election — among them former Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president José Maria Marin.

The Swiss authorities also launched an investigation into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cups — currently set to be held Russia and Qatar — were awarded.

Brazil, which hosted the 2014 World Cup, has also launched two inquiries — one criminal, one congressional — to establish whether any crimes alleged by the FBI’s investigation were committed on Brazilian soil, and to investigate the CBF.

Zico is considered one of the greatest players in football history, representing Brazil at the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cup finals. He has since worked as a coach, starting at Rio’s Flamengo football club and moving on to manage international teams, including stints in Japan, Russia, Iraq and Turkey (Ben Tavener / Anadolu Agency).

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