Former France winger David Ginola’s bid for the FIFA presidency was plunged into confusion on Thursday following an announcement that his team would refund donations from his supporters.
His campaign website, Team Ginola, was taken down and replaced with a statement that read: “A huge thank you for supporting Team Ginola. The crowdfunding page is now closed.
“All donations will be returned to those that have pledged. The campaign for change goes on.”
But when asked by AFP if the former Paris Saint-Germain star had abandoned his bid to unseat FIFA president Sepp Blatter in the election on May 29, a spokesperson replied “No”, without elaborating.
Ginola then took to Twitter, writing: “Not giving up, still in the race to reboot football! Will not give up… final nomination results might not be known before 8th February…”
Announcing his candidacy earlier this month, Ginola said he was being paid £250,000 ($376,000, 332,000 euros) to stand by a betting company and was looking to generate money for his bid via crowd-funding.
He had set a public funding target of £2.3 million, but only raised £256,316 in pledges in two weeks.
Thursday is the deadline for candidates to confirm if they are to stand in the election for the leadership of world football‘s governing body.
Blatter faces challenges from former Portugal winger Luis Figo, Dutch football chief Michael van Praag, ex-FIFA executive Jerome Champagne and Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein.
But Champagne and Ginola are believed to have struggled to secure the backing of five national federations, which is a requirement for all presidential candidates.
Ginola had earlier claimed that he had the support of the football world in his bid to topple 78-year-old Blatter, who is bidding for a fifth term in office.
“I know it is very difficult to beat Blatter, but I think the football world is with me,” Ginola told Thursday’s edition of Spanish sports daily Marca.
“It cannot be that football is the most popular sport, but the most inaccessible politically.”
FIFA has been mired in corruption claims relating to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, set to take place in Russia and Qatar respectively.
American lawyer Michael Garcia, asked by FIFA to look into the bidding procedures for both tournaments, dramatically quit as the organisation’s ethics investigator last month.
He resigned after losing an appeal challenging findings that cleared Russia and Qatar to stage the tournaments.
Ginola lambasted that process, claiming it has “damaged FIFA’s credibility”.
The 48-year-old also threw his support behind greater use of technology in the game and called for coaches to be allowed to challenge decisions.
Goal-line technology was used at a major international tournament for the first time at the 2014 World Cup.
“We want to give each coach the chance to stop the game two times to challenge a controversial incident, like what happens in cricket, tennis and rugby,” he said. – Agence France-Presse