As Michel Platini prepares to reveal his FIFA presidential vision, a rival contender is launching his campaign by questioning the UEFA leader’s long-standing association with Sepp Blatter and his credentials to reform the scandal-tainted governing body.
Former Trinidad and Tobago captain David Nakhid is positioning himself as a candidate whose main selling point is his distance from the discredited Swiss-based institution, having never served under Blatter.
Platini, who will speak publicly on Friday for the first time since launching his bid to run world football, has been a FIFA executive committee member for 13 years and has only recently severed his close friendship with Blatter.
“Platini has been positioning himself as a reformer, but how can that be?” Nakhid said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
“Those who are vying for the post should be scrutinized and looked at,” Nakhid added. “How can someone claim to be free or not tainted when he has been part of the circle that has basically brought football down a sorry path?”
Platini, who has not been implicated in the FIFA scandals, helped Blatter make the step up from secretary general to president in the 1998 election.
Chung Mong-Joon, a former FIFA vice president, launched his campaign earlier this month by also questioning why Platini is only recently distancing himself from Blatter.
“Suddenly become very fashionable to become Blatter’s enemy,” the South Korean said.
Unlike Chung, Nakhid has never held a position within FIFA, having played football in the United States, Europe and Middle East before taking on coaching jobs and opening an academy in Lebanon.
Although not a household name like Platini, the former France captain turned head of European football, Nakhid claims to have the support of the Caribbean Football Union, which contains 25 FIFA nations.
The backing of five of FIFA’s 209 federations is required by Oct. 26 to make it onto the Feb. 26 ballot to replace Blatter, who is prematurely quitting as president after 18 years as Swiss and U.S. authorities investigate football corruption.
“There has not been the scrutiny placed on (Platini) as has been placed on for example Sepp Blatter,” Nakhid said.
Although Platini has not been accused of corruption, Nakhid questions if he could have done more to expose wrongdoing by Jack Warner.
Warner, the disgraced former FIFA vice president and CONCACAF leader, is a compatriot of Nakhid’s. He has been indicted by the United States on bribery and fraud charges.
“I fought against Jack Warner since I was 24 years old,” Nakhid said. “I fought against him when everyone was afraid to fight against him and I paid the consequences. Now it’s in vogue to do it.”
An assistant coach for Trinidad and Tobago’s 2006 World Cup team, Nakhid said: “On several occasions I was blacklisted by Jack Warner for the national team because I advocated the rights of players who were inadequately paid.”
It was seeing the “culture of sycophancy” around Warner that convinced Nakhid there is a better way to run the world’s most popular sport.
“We need to change that type of leadership from that maximum power leadership,” Nakhid said. “Something that involves consultation.”
Nakhid is yet to reveal a manifesto, centering his fledging campaign on a promise to consult rather than impose changes to the 32-team World Cup and to ensure richer nations spread their wealth to the developing world.
Nakhid, who says he speaks six languages, would also overhaul FIFA’s management structures to ensure technocrats rather than people like Warner would sit on audit and finance committees.
“That will lessen the corruption that goes on and increase expertise,” Nakhid said.
Nakhid played in Europe between 1988 and 1995 for Grasshoppers in Switzerland, Waregem in Belgium and PAOK in Greece. He then moved to Lebanon to join Al Ansar before signing up with the New England Revolution in Major League Soccer between 1997 and 1998. Before ending his career at Al Ansar between 2000 and 2001, he played at Al Emirates in the United Arab Emirates.
In his post-playing career, Nakhid has run an academy in Beirut since 2006. Nakhid’s last job as a head coach was with Racing Club Beirut between 2011 and 2012, according to his website.
Lacking experience on a governing body should be seen as an advantage, Nakhid said.
“People with so called experience have led us to this path and I think nothing really prepares you for the rule of such magnitude,” Nakhid said. “What does prepare you is a track record of integrity, doing things right, and being an activist for the right things.”