Saying it is Africa’s time to lead world soccer, Liberia Soccer Association president Musa Bility has announced plans to pursue the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) presidency.
He’s the second person to declare his candidacy after former Brazilian international, Zico.
“Africa is the largest voting bloc in FIFA and we must take the lead to bring soccer together,” said Bility, who has been head of his soccer association since 2010. “We all agree that soccer is facing a difficult moment and it is in difficult moments that great leaders emerge.”
Bility is the second African to make a bid to become FIFA’s president. Current Confederation of African Soccer president Issa Hayatou lost to Sepp Blatter in the 2002 presidential elections. Earlier this month, 79-year-old Blatter announced he would step down as president amid allegations of corruption among FIFA officials.
Four years ago, Bility broke ranks with most of his African colleagues by declaring he would vote against Blatter, who had been instrumental in bringing the 2010 World Cup to the continent for the first time in that year’s FIFA elections.
Bility said Blatter’s then-challenger, Qatari Mohamed Bin Hamman, offered a “better platform” for soccer development in Liberia.
A year later, the Liberian businessman stood alone when contesting controversial rule changes within CAF that ultimately allowed president Hayatou to be re-elected unopposed.
In 2013, the CAF handed Bility a six-month ban for violating statutes relating to the use of confidential documents, a punishment the Liberian claimed came as a result of his attempt to tackle African soccer’s ruling body.
Bility, however, thinks his outspoken past will help in his surprise bid for soccer’s top global position.
“People know me to be bold, upright and highly opinionated,” he said. “I say it like it is. When it’s not right, I don’t back down and I think that has gained me some respect.”
Bility has yet to receive the backing of the five soccer associations needed to put him in the race, but is confident he will secure them.
“I have spoken to about half a dozen of the presidents of African soccer and I have their support,” he said. “You can see the excitement. If I have one reason to believe that Africa is not going to stand by me, I am not going to put up my candidacy.”
FIFA has called an extraordinary meeting of its executive committee for next month, when the date for the presidential election will be decided.
It is expected to take place between December 2015 and March 2016.