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Luis Figo withdraws Fifa president candidacy

Figo has withdrawn his bid to become Fifa president. Credit: PA

Luis Figo has withdrawn his candidacy for next week's Fifa presidential campaign, and launched a scathing attack on the election process.

Posting on his Facebook acount today, the former Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Barcelona winger said:

Does anyone think it's normal that an election for one of the most relevant organizations on the planet can go ahead without a public debate?

Does anyone think it's normal that one of the candidates doesn't even bother to present an election manifesto that can be voted on May 29?

Shouldn't it be mandatory to present such a manifesto so that federation presidents know what they're voting for?

– Luis Figo

Figo's decision to pull out leaves Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and serving Fifa president Sepp Blatter as the only remaining candidates after Michael van Praag pulled out earlier this morning.

Michael van Praag withdraws Fifa candidacy

Van Praag will instead support Prince Ali Bin Al Hussain. Credit: PA

Dutch FA president Michael van Praag has pulled out of the race for the FIFA presidency and has given his backing to Prince Ali bin Al Hussein.

The decision by Van Praag should concentrate opposition to current president Sepp Blatter, who is the favourite to win a fifth term in office.

Former Portugal international Luis Figo is still in the contest but he too may consider withdrawing in favour of Prince Ali, a FIFA vice-president from Jordan.

A statement from Van Praag's office said:

After thorough deliberation and reflection with different involved parties and stakeholders, Michael van Praag decided to withdraw his candidacy to become the next FIFA president and to join forces with presidential candidate Prince Ali Al Hussein.

– Dutch FA president Michael van Praag


Fifa to investigate journalist arrest in Qatar

Fifa are seeking "clarity from the Qatari authorities" after being contacted by the BBC.

"Any instance relating to an apparent restriction of press freedom is of concern to Fifa and will be looked into with the seriousness it deserves," a Fifa spokesman said.

"Fifa fully respects the freedom of the press and believes the freedom of movement for journalists is of utmost importance.

"At the same time, the general rules of the respective host countries should be respected by media when it comes to filming and gaining the necessary permissions."

Reporters critical of Fifa arrested and detained in Qatar

A group of German TV journalists have been arrested and detained in Qatar for working on a documentary about Sepp Blatter and Fifa's decision to award the 2022 World Cup to the Arab state.

ARD German TV reporter Florian Bauer had been working on a film called ‘The Selling of Football: Sepp Blatter and the Power of Fifa,’ which threatened to bring fresh allegations against Fifa's 2022 voting process.

Reporters working for both ARD and WDR were shooting parts of the documentary when they were allegedly arrested, detained and had all of their equipment confiscated.

WDR said in a statement the employees were released 14 hours later, but all of the data had been deleted when it was returned, with some of the equipment also physically damaged.

The WDR team wrote:

We were arrested while shooting with workers in the Qatari capital, Doha, then interrogated by the State Security and only released after 14 hours.

The WDR employees were not allowed to leave Qatar for five days. The camera equipment, laptops and personal mobile phones were confiscated and returned only with a four-week delay. All data has been deleted and pieces of equipment have been damaged.

– German TV company WDR


Kuwaiti politician joins Fifa executive committee

heikh Ahmad was the only candidate for a two-year term. Credit: Reuters

Political kingmaker Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait extended his influence further into soccer on Thursday when he was elected unopposed as one of Asia's three ordinary representatives on FIFA's executive committee.

Sheikh Ahmad was the only candidate for a two-year term up for grabs on FIFA's top table due to tactical manoeuvring by confederation chiefs.

The tactics were orchestrated by Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, who himself was re-elected as Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president unopposed for a four year term. He will continue on the FIFA executive committee as the Asian president.

Blatter wants teams relegated over racism

Sepp Blatter is running again. Credit: PA

Fifa president Sepp Blatter says football bodies should have the power to relegate teams if their fans commit racist acts.

Blatter, who is currently running for his fifth straight term in office, hopes the stricter punishments will act as a deterrent.

"We have to punish not only through fines and stadium closures but we have to use our rules to suspend teams, to take away their points or even to relegate them if racism continues," he said.

FA chairman Dyke returns watch gift

Greg Dyke had wanted to auction the watch for charity. Credit: PA

Fifa has announced that Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has returned the watch given to him by the Brazilian FA during the 2014 World Cup. and that the Fifa Ethics Committee has therefore closed proceedings in respect of a possible breach of the Fifa Code of Ethics.

Dyke received the £16,000 Parmigiani watch during a Fifa Congress meeting in Sao Paulo at last year's World Cup - with 65 handed out in goodie bags totalling more than £1million.

The watches were recalled, but Dyke had planned to donate it to the FA's charity partner, Breast Cancer Care, to allow them to auction it.

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