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Luis Figo has pulled out of the Fifa presidential race with a stinging broadside against Sepp Blatter and the electoral process.

After the Dutch FA president, Michael van Praag, also withdrew, as expected, Blatter is left with the Jordanian former Fifa executive committee member Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein as his only challenger.

Figo, the former world footballer of the year who, like Van Praag, launched his candidacy with a strident speech and glossy manifesto, had been frustrated by Blatter’s refusal to countenance a public debate and compared his 17-year tenure to a “dictatorship”. The Portuguese former Barcelona and Real Madrid player said that the process was “anything but an election”.

“This process is a plebiscite for the delivery of absolute power to one man – something I refuse to go along with,” he said. “That is why, after a personal reflection and sharing views with two other candidates in this process, I believe that what is going to happen on May 29 in Zurich is not a normal electoral act.”

While he said some supported his desire for change, Figo said that at recent meetings of the continental confederations around the world he witnessed behaviour that “should shame anyone who desires soccer to be free, clean and democratic”. He added: “I have seen with my own eyes federation presidents who, after one day comparing Fifa leaders to the devil, then go on stage and compare those same people with Jesus Christ. Nobody told me about this. I saw it with my own eyes.”

Figo was apparently referring to the Concacaf congress at which Blatter was improbably compared to Jesus, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. “The candidates were prevented from addressing federations at congresses while one of the candidates always gave speeches on his own from the rostrum. There has not been a single public debate about each candidate’s proposals,” he added.
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