Michel Platini’s bid for the Fifa presidency has garnered no immediate enthusiasm from Africa despite France’s strong footballing ties with the continent.
A day after confirming he would stand to replace Sepp Blatter as leader of world football, the Frenchman has been criticised by one African association and given a lukewarm endorsement by one of his closest allies.
“Platini would not represent change, he has been a Fifa vice-president for eight years. He should not replace Sepp Blatter, it would be unacceptable,” said Liberian Football Association president Musa Bility in a BBC interview.
Bility had declared his own candidacy but is expected to find it difficult to obtain the nomination of at least five associations that he needs to get on the ballot for next February’s election.
Platini has also failed to get an endorsement from former Ivory Coast federation president Jacques Anouma, who served with him on the Fifa executive committee.
Anouma was expected to push for African support for Platini but says he would rather take his cue from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
“I do not deny the excellent relationship I have with Michel Platini as I have with many other leaders of world football,” he wrote on his website (www.jacquesanouma.ci).
“However I would like to advise that I will side with the decision of CAF to safeguard the interest of African football.”
CAF have not made any comment on the impending election.
But Platini’s recent criticism of Blatter has won him few friends in Africa, where the Swiss incumbent remains popular.
“His harsh words against Blatter were not right. He could have disagreed in another way,” said three-time African Footballer of the Year Abedi Pele, a former vice president of the Ghana Football Association.
Platini is also unlikely to benefit from a perception that some European countries want to curtailAfrica’s power bloc, with CAF boasting 54 member associations, more than any other confederation.
“European associations are hostile to the principle of one country one vote in Fifa,” added Senegal Football Federation President Augustin Seghor in the French magazine Jeune Afrique.
“It’s quite ironic to hear them constantly complaining about the lack of democracy in Africa but when it suits them advocating a totally unequal system.”