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Soccer: Fifa election is closed shop, says candidate Zico

[ZURICH] Fifa has closed the door on those within football who want to enter the presidential election race, former Brazil playmaker Zico said on his Thursday as his bid threatened to hit the buffers.

Zico is struggling with the rule that requires potential candidates to present letters of support from five national football associations by Oct 26, four months before the election.

He said most FAs were afraid of backing the wrong candidate and suffering reprisals from their continental confederations.

"The problem is not that I am a victim, the victims are everyone who works in football who could have the ambition to one day be a candidate," Zico told reporters at a Zurich hotel.

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"It's your (personal) history in the sport which should be important, not whether or not you can provide a letter for someone. "Any sportsman feels they are a victim of this ruling," added Zico who appeared in three World Cups and is considered one of the finest players Brazil have produced.

He said the rule made it difficult for those who were part of the sport but not part of Fifa or the continental confederations, such as players, coaches, doctors and club directors, to break into world soccer's governing body.

"I'm the only real outsider among the candidates," he said. "I have never participated in anything to do with Fifa, I have never been on any Fifa committee."

Fifa's 209 member associations each hold one vote at the election but critics say they are heavily influenced by the continental confederations who sometimes ask their members to vote as a block for one candidate.

"There is big pressure from the confederations and this takes away the independence of the federations," said Zico. "The federations are afraid to provide a letter because they could suffer reprisals in case their candidate is beaten." He added block voting did not make sense in any case.

"Brazil doesn't have the same objectives as Bolivia, Japan doesn't have the same objectives as Vietman, Germany doesn't have the same objectives as Kazakhstan, so why do they have to vote for the same person?," said Zico. "Why is there no right for everyone to have their choice. This is a terrible thing for football and needs to be included in reforms for the good of world football."

Fifa was thrown into turmoil in May when 14 sports marketing executives and soccer officials, including several from Fifa, were indicted in the United States on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges.