FIFA lacks credibility while Sepp Blatter is president, according to UEFA leader Michel Platini, saying his former mentor fears the "emptiness" of life after leaving football's world governing body.
Ahead of the FIFA presidential election on Friday, the 79-year-old Blatter had no grand plans for the organisation and it was "not credible" to claim he needed a fifth four-year term to complete an unfinished mission, Platini told French sports daily L'Equipe.
While he [Blatter] remains in place, FIFA will lack credibility
"He's simply scared of the future, as he has given his life to the institution, to the point where he now identifies himself fully with FIFA," Platini said.
"I understand the fear of that emptiness that he [Blatter] must have, it's natural. But if he really loves FIFA, he should have put its interests ahead of his own."
Though Platini said he likes Blatter on a personal level, his explicit criticism of the FIFA chief points to a deep rift between the two.
Backing for Ali
Blatter seeks to extend his 17-year reign at an election many saw as a natural time for the former France great to get the top job.
He opted last August not to challenge Blatter in the election of 209 FIFA member federations and now supports the only opponent: FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan.
"I am firmly convinced that Ali, whom I have known on a personal level for years, would make a great FIFA President. He has everything it takes."
Blatter is strongly favoured to win another vote with widespread support in five of FIFA's six continental regions.
|Platini has opted not to challenge Blatter [Getty Images]
He compared himself to a mountain goat, telling the Neue Zurcher Zeitung he "cannot be stopped, I just keep going".
Platini, now 59, was a key campaigner helping Blatter become FIFA president in 1998 and then a long-time heir apparent.
"I have nothing against Sepp. I like him as a person and I respect him," Platini said in an interview transcript provided by UEFA. "We have had some good times together, and nothing and no one can take that away."
FIFA and Blatter have spent much of the past four years handling fallout and reputational damage from scandals involving Bin Hammam and other senior executive committee members, plus the controversial choices of Russia and Qatar as World Cup hosts in 2018 and 2022, respectively.
Platini reiterated his call for "a breath of fresh air" at the top.
"And while he remains in place, whether he likes it or not, and whether it is fair or not, FIFA will lack credibility and its image will be tarnished, and so it will lack authority."