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Zico asks Sepp Blatter to change FIFA election rules

Former Brazil great Zico met with FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Wednesday to ask for changes in election eligibility rules at soccer’s governing body.

Zico has announced he wants to run for FIFA’s presidency after Blatter leaves in <g data-gr-id="40">February,</g> but is struggling to fulfill the requirement of having at least five federations supporting him as a candidate.
Zico told The Associated Press that this rule needs to change because local federations are pressured by their confederations and can’t make their own choices. He said Blatter was very receptive to his letter calling for the <g data-gr-id="46">changes,</g> and said the president also didn’t agree with the current rules.

“It’s difficult,” Zico told the AP in a telephone interview after meeting with Blatter at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich. “The way things are right now, it’s very difficult for anybody to become a candidate.”

So far, Zico only has the support from Brazil and needs to find other four federations to back him by Oct. 26 in order to become an official candidate.

He expected to have the support of Turkey and Japan, countries where he spent a lot of time playing and <g data-gr-id="41">coaching,</g> but said the local federations are being pressured not to support him.

“The federations must be allowed to make their own choices,” Zico said. “President Blatter agrees with that, and hopefully things will change in the future. If we can achieve that, it would be a significant accomplishment going forward.” 

FIFA said Blatter received Zico as a courtesy and at the former player’s <g data-gr-id="49">request,</g> and said “there was no discussion on the merits of the FIFA presidential election rules.” UEFA President Michel Platini is considered the frontrunner to replace Blatter next year. UEFA had been pushing for tighter qualification rules for presidential candidates before they were approved last year by FIFA’s executive committee. Zico, who played for Brazil at the 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cups, said that recently he had very productive meetings with Turkey’s federation but was not able to get its support because of UEFA’s influence. The same thing happened in Japan, which he said is being pressured by the Asia confederation.

Platini, who has some influential supporters in Asia, dismissed the need for changes in eligibility regulations, saying “rules are rules.”

“He doesn’t have five letters?,” the Frenchman said when asked Tuesday about Zico’s intentions. “I’m sorry.” Zico later published the “open letter” he delivered to Blatter with a list of 10 points “essential for the reform process,” including the need to “reform the FIFA presidency” through term limits, transparency and “an open and transparent electoral” process.

“Elections are one of the key things to be reformed,” he wrote. “After all, an election under the current rules can only serve those already committed to the current <g data-gr-id="45">system.</g>” Zico said he has the “ideal platform for advancing” changes at FIFA.

“The football community seeks a fresh, independent candidate not involved with or compromised by the current and previous governance structures at FIFA, 
confederations and national associations,” the 62-year-old Brazilian said.
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