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Blatter challengers for FIFA head to throw in towel: report

Two of the challengers for the FIFA presidential election are set to withdraw, a Dutch newspaper has reported. The pair apparently want to unite support behind a third candidate to oust incumbent Sepp Blatter.

Dutchman Michael van Praag (right, above) and Portugal's Luis Figo (left) are reportedly planning to withdraw their candidacy for the post of FIFA president, just over a week before football's governing body meets to decide on a new boss.

According to Dutch newspaper "De Volkskrant," the Chairman of the Dutch football association (KNVB) van Praag apparently wants to lend his support to Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, as a replacement for the current FIFA head Sepp Blatter. The paper cited unnamed FIFA sources to back up their story.

Van Praag is believed to be of the opinion that current FIFA vice-president for Asia, Prince Ali, has managed to unite the most support behind his bid. The newspaper reported that Luis Figo will also withdraw for the same reasons. The KNVB did not confirm van Praag's withdrawal but said to German sports news agency SID that there "have been discussions amongst the candidates about the possibility of uniting forces."

Figo and van Praag are apparently due to conduct a surprise joint press conference later on Wednesday in the Netherlands, although no confirmation was available from either candidate about the event.

Incumbent FIFA President Sepp Blatter is running for his fifth term as head of the world's football governing body. Due to strong support in Asia and Africa the 79-year-old is expected to be re-elected when FIFA's 209 members meet in Zurich on May 29.

al/sms (dpa, SID)

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