Why the African candidate for FIFA Presidency thinks Platini is an ‘unacceptable’ choice

Last month, Musa Bility, president of the Liberian Football Association announced his intention to run for the post of FIFA president. As predicted, his announcement made the headlines as he was the first—and so far only— African to declare for the position next year. But the task of securing majority votes from the 209 member football associations of FIFA has become much tougher as Michel Platini, current president of European football body, UEFA, has declared his intention to run.

Platini’s experience with UEFA and thirteen year membership of FIFA’s executive committee places him in good stead to win the presidential elections. However Musa Bility thinks that Platini’s long standing involvement with FIFA makes him an ‘unacceptable choice’.

“The world has asked for football and those who have managed football to be changed,” Bility said. “Platini would not represent change, [he] has been Fifa vice-president for eight years. He should not replace Sepp Blatter, it would be unacceptable.”

Platini had previously enjoyed a long standing friendship with outgoing leader Sepp Blatter but following Blatter’s decision to stand for office this year after his promise to quit, the friendship reportedly turned sour. But Bility thinks that friendship and Platini’s close association with Blatter over the years means that the Frenchman cannot be trusted with leading FIFA’s proposed and much wanted reforms.

“When did Platini start being vocal about reform? Has he ever done that in the Fifa board room? Everything that we are trying to change today he has supported. Only now that he has declared his intention does he show some opposition to what has been before,” said Bility.

“Platini has been the one saying Blatter is no good, Blatter should leave, but meanwhile he was in a board-room with Blatter. Every decision that we are all decrying today – there is no record to show that Platini decided otherwise. Platini’s vote is right next to Blatter’s vote. Why should we replace Blatter? If you bring in Platini there’s no need to replace Blatter,” Bility added.

While Bility may think Platini is unacceptable, he will find it difficult convincing many others as Platini has reportedly began to receive significant support from football confederations. Despite the fact that Africa, Bility’s home continent is the largest voting bloc with 54 federations, Platini’s likely support from Europe, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF means that he will likely have enough votes to get elected. Should this happen, Platini will become the eighth European to lead FIFA since inception in 1904; one of Bility’s major contentions.

“We’re in the 21st century and Europe has to understand that the rest of the world deserves to be head of this organisation. This is not the European Union, this is not Uefa – this is FIFA. It is international. We need a change.”

No African is yet to be elected president of FIFA and Bility is the second to contest, after Issa Hayatou in 2002. In convincing the world to vote for him, Bility could seek to fuel the sentiment of more inclusion in FIFA leadership and so far, he seems to be doing exactly that.

“The records show that since the formation of Fifa there have been eight presidents. Seven have been Europeans. Are you telling me that the rest of us don’t matter?” he asks.

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