Dutch FA chief van Praag to stand against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Van Praag's announcement comes a day after Blatter accused rivals of not having the courage to face him.

    Story highlights

    • Head of Dutch soccer announces plans to stand against Sepp Blatter for FIFA head post
    • Van Praag voices concerns about the manner in which the body is currently being run
    • Dutchman is the latest in a growing number of candidates standing in a bid to topple Blatter

    (CNN)Michael van Praag, the head of Dutch soccer, has joined the race to become FIFA's next president.

    The 66-year-old has been at the helm of the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) since August 2008 and has openly called for the current incumbent Sepp Blatter to step down.
      He announced his decision to stand on the body's official website and raised concerns about FIFA's current leadership in the process.
      "I am very worried about the deteriorating situation at FIFA, the public opinion, the trustworthiness is very bad and with me a lot of people in the world believe so," he said.
      "I was hoping that a credible, fresh face would stand up to do it but unfortunately that is not the case. So that's why I decided to take my own responsibility, especially after what I said in Sao Paulo and therefore I go for it.
      "FIFA has to be normalized and FIFA has to be modernized. In my business life and also in Ajax and also in my association, I went through this exercise many, many times so I have a lot of experience in that respect. So I believe I'm the right person to do it."
      Van Praag is one of a number of candidates hoping to topple the leader of football's world governing body, who has been in the job for 17 years.
      After being re-elected unopposed in 2011, Blatter could now face van Praag, former PSG and Tottenham footballer David Ginola as well as independent candidate Jerome Champagne in May's ballot.
      Van Praag was president of the Netherlands' most successful club Ajax between 1989 and 2003, following in the footsteps of his father Jaap.
      During his reign Ajax added six Dutch league titles to its roll call of honors, the current total now standing at 33. Van Praag has also been a member of UEFA's Executive Committee since 2009.
      Blatter announced his intention to step down at the end of his fourth term but backtracked at FIFA's congress in Brazil last year, claiming his mission was "not yet finished."
      That decision drew criticism from a number of FIFA member countries, given the allegations of corruption relating to the bidding process for the 2018 World Cup, awarded to Russia, and the 2022 installment, given to Qatar.
      Van Praag was one of those to suggest Blatter should step down, telling him at a meeting of European officials: "Few people still take FIFA seriously and, however you look at it, Blatter is mainly responsible.
      "You are not making things easy for yourself and I do not think you are the man for the job any longer.
      "FIFA's image has deteriorated because of everything that's happened in recent years. People link FIFA to corruption and bribery and all kinds of old boy's networks."
      Blatter enjoys firm support from the majority of FIFA's 209 member associations and many see May's elections as a forgone conclusion, despite the last few being blighted by scandal and difficulty.
      The Swiss enlisted U.S. lawyer Michael Garcia to probe claims that Qatar's former IFA member Mohamed Bin Hammam used a multi-million dollar slush fund to buy support for the bid, charges that Qatar bid have strenuously denied.
      Garcia quit his role as chairman of the Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee after objecting to the way his report into the bidding process had been summarized by German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert -- the organization's independent ethics adjudicator.
      Bin Hammam was the only challenger to the president four years ago but withdrew from the race after he was suspended on bribery charges, leaving Blatter to run unopposed amid farcical scenes at the congress in Zurich.
      The head of European soccer's governing body, Michel Platini, has called on Blatter to stand down, but announced he would not personally be running for president.
      It remains to be seen whether Ginola, or any of his fellow candidates, can make a significant dent in the support Blatter holds among FIFA's members, and make the May elections anything more than another forgone conclusion.