Sepp Blatter's FIFA leadership has lost credibility, says candidate Van Praag

FIFA presidential candidate Michael van Praag told ESPN's E:60 he believes that the credibility of world football's governing body is "gone" under Sepp Blatter's rule but that he would offer the current incumbent a role in his administration should he win the May 29 election.

Blatter, 79, is facing the greatest challenge to his 17-year reign in the wake of the controversy surrounding the awarding of the hosting rights of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively in 2010.

Allegations of corruption in the bidding process sparked an inquiry led by former U.S. attorney Michael Garcia, but his two-year probe has so far only resulted in a summary published by FIFA which Garcia himself has discredited.

Current Dutch football federation (KNVB) chief Van Praag is one of three men running against Blatter in this month's election, to be held at the FIFA Congress in Zurich. FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan and former Ballon d'Or winner Luis Figo are the other two men competing against Blatter, who was re-elected unopposed in 2011 for what he pledged at the time would be his last term.

Van Praag has told E:60's Jeremy Schaap -- in an interview conducted for a documentary on Sepp Blatter and FIFA, to be broadcast on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET -- that the current leadership has failed fans and vowed to cut excessive spending at world football's governing body and make it more transparent in a bid to restore faith in the organisation.

"If we look at FIFA today, of course a lot of good things have also happened there," the 67-year-old said. "We should not forget that the development, Goal Project, et cetera. Yes, that's right. But if you look at the... at the worthiness of FIFA, the credibility of FIFA, it's gone.

"Everybody talks about corruption. Sometimes decisions are taken and you don't know why they are taken, and who has taken them. So, that is all very wrong.

"And football belongs to the people. Football is for everyone. And my association is a member of FIFA. And we are really very annoyed about how things are happening, and that there seems to be a lot of secrets. We don't know how the money is spent, what money is spent, who gets what.

"When you look at Twitter, I'm very active at Twitter and Facebook, and if you see how the people think about FIFA, it is terrible. So, something has to change. And in my opinion the president of FIFA, whether it is Mr. Blatter or me or whoever, he is the responsible person. He is the executive president, which means that he also has responsibility for the good things, but certainly also for the state of FIFA, the deteriorating state in which he is facing at the moment.

"So, I believe if you really want to have a turnaround, that cannot be the person who is in charge and responsibility for the state FIFA is in now; it cannot be the same person to do the turnaround. If you look at an enterprise or a company or an association or whatever, when you want to turn around, you always see a new, fresh face."

Van Praag cited "United Passions," the 2014 motion picture about FIFA -- for which the Switzerland-based body funded the majority of its $27 million budget but never received a wide general release -- as a prime example of misuse of funds and secrecy under Blatter's reign.

"I haven't seen it," he said. "I even heard that the executive committee was not aware that it was going to happen. And we are talking about huge amounts of money which could have been used for football development in smaller and poorer countries.

"And so, that is disgraceful. And all the secrecy about nominations for World Cups. We have the soap around the Garcia report. All those kind of things mean the credibility of FIFA is gone."

Despite his standing against Blatter, Van Praag said that he intends to keep the Swiss on should he be elected to serve what he has vowed would be a single, four-year term.

"I'm not telling them that FIFA is bad or Mr. Blatter is bad," he said. "No. As a matter of fact in my program, I also have a role for Mr. Blatter in the coming four years.

"When I decided to run, I visited him also in his office on Jan. 9. I went there to tell him. And I went there also to offer him a position as active honorary president. Because I could use him in the next four years. When I have to focus on changing the FIFA, it means that I might have less time to expand the Goal Project, to enhance that. And I also believe that FIFA should have a foundation for children without any future in the world.

"So, I would like him to do that. Because that's close to his heart. And besides, he has a very large database, a large network, which I could use. If he wants to call a head of state they answer him immediately, not when I call them. So, that could be very useful."