London (dpa) – Luis Figo said on Thursday he will redirect half of Fifa’s revenues into grass-roots football if he’s elected as president of world football’s governing body, FIFA.
The former Portugal, Real Madrid and Barcelona star told a press conference at Wembley Stadium that he would put 2.5 billion dollars into grassroots football, including pitches and kits.
“I passionately believe that there is far too much at stake to sit on the sidelines and refuse to act – that is not the man I am,” he said.
“I am ready to help bring about real change and usher in a far more positive era for FIFA and every one of its member associations.
“I was very lucky and fortunate to have the chance to play and get training from a young age. But this opportunity does not exist for most children in the world, so addressing this crucial issue would be a key focus under my presidency.
“It is why I propose creating school football projects in every member association country. And it is why I want to see at least 50 per cent of FIFA’s solidarity funds spent on grassroots football pitches, balls and kits.
“If done in the right way, with a clearly defined strategy that is centrally audited and monitored, this investment will radically enhance football opportunities for boys and girls and directly benefit all of FIFA’s 209 member associations.”
The 42-year-old Figo, who is one of three men challenging incumbent Jospeh Blatter for the presidency along with Dutchman Michael Van Praag Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, also said the World Cup should be expanded to spread the game further at the top level.
“I believe we should consider proposals to expand the competition from its current 32 team structure, to a 40 or even 48 team World Cup,” he said.
“Both these options are feasible with an extra three to four days of tournament play. If this expansion were to take place, I believe that additional teams should come from non-European nations.”
Among Figo’s other pledges were to give his support for goalline technology, using sin-bins for unsporting behaviour to referees and a change in the offside rule, making a player offside even if he’s not directly involved in play.
The election for FIFA president takes place on May 29.