Van Praag eyes CONMEBOL support

2015-03-05 11:18
Michael van Praag (Getty Images)

Asuncion - Michael van Praag hopes to win South America's support in the FIFA presidential election despite the region's endorsement of incumbent Sepp Blatter, he said on Wednesday.

Van Praag was in Paraguay's capital for the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) congress, the first stop on the campaign trail for the four candidates in the May 29 election to decide the most influential position in soccer.

"I had a meeting with the presidents of the (regional) federations and the president of CONMEBOL and I have a good feeling about my meeting yesterday," he told reporters.

"They didn't disclose what they are going to do and I can understand that because there are still two months to go so they have time to come together again and make up their minds," he told international new agency reporters.

"They are very much interested in football issues, of course transparency and change. That is the feeling that I got, that they want change."

Van Praag, president of Dutch soccer's governing body KNVB, is proposing changes including a 40-team World Cup finals tournament, adding one nation from each confederation plus the title holders.

"Some people say 40 teams is a bit much, but 40 is only 20 percent of all the members of FIFA," he said, adding that it would mean extending the length of the tournament for only a couple of days.

Van Praag attended the congress as a guest along with Blatter and the other presidential candidates, former Portugal winger Luis Figo and FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.

Asked if he would support changes in the World Cup qualifying process, Van Praag said: "I believe that there is too much power in the hands of one man which is the president of the FIFA.

"One of the things that I am going to do is to establish a presidents' board... ask the presidents of every confederation to become a member.

"If the majority, in a very democratic way, believe we should change the qualifying process, why not? What I want is more input from the presidents of the confederations, because then we know what is going on in CONMEBOL, we know how Asia looks at things, that is important."

Europe has complained about the length of CONMEBOL's qualifiers with its 10 members playing each other home and away in one group and international players travelling from their European clubs to South America and back several times a year.

Read more on:    fifa  |  michael van praag  |  soccer

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