Monrovia - In spite of the declared intentions of European football governing body chief, Michel Platini’s quest to succeed Sepp Blatter, Liberia FA chief Musa Bility appears undeterred, insisting that he, Bility is the clear favorite to become the next President of the Federation of International Football, FIFA. Bility recently questioned the motives behind Platini’s quest and dismissed the Frenchman as being the right person to replace Blatter: "What is the difference if someone wants [Sepp] Blatter to go, why do you want to replace him with Platini? What message are you sending?
Do we just want to get rid of Blatter and so that's it? If that's it then Platini is the candidate. But if not, if we're looking for an honest and a fair beginning, then we have to start fresh with people with new thinking - as the British FA have said. We need people, new thinkers. We need someone from an emerging country that comes, like me, with no strings attached, and the opportunity to look at FIFA from the perspective of the rich, the poor and those that are in the middle."
Bility’ s gamble reflects a growing sentiment that perhaps this is Africa’s time to take a shot at top void in the global game, but many remain unsure whether Bility’s long shot can get him to the top post which has been headed by only eight men since it was created in 1904. Bility’s defence? "I have a very clear objective. I come from a continent that has the largest block of votes and in this election, unless there is a candidate against me from Africa, I am the front runner.
Not looking to rely on Africa alone, Bility says he will reach out to other continents as well in hopes of landing the coveted post. "Asia, the Caribbean, the Americas...we're going to reach out to them. They all have concerns and our job is to make sure we don't want to be bullied. We do not want to be told what to do. At this point in time, what we want is the President that resonates with everybody and reflects the views and aspirations of 209 members."
Bility is also hoping that his odds may be strengthening by the fact that an underdog nation could continue the trend of the traditional nations heading FIFA. Brazil's Joao Havelange broke the mould in 1974, expanding the game to new commercial heights during his 24-year reign. Blatter is departing the body mired in allegations of corruption although he himself has not been linked to any wrongdoing.
Bility who is joining a field that includes the likes of Brazil legend Zico, UEFA President Michel Platini and Diego Maradona. But his candidacy is being threatened by questions about the intentions of Issa Hayatou, Head of African football, CAF, the only African to have ever run for FIFA President, heavily defeated by Blatter in 2002. Bility insists that he sees no difference between him and Platini, although the latter, a former European Footballer of the Year actually played the game and has a few big name clouts in his corner.
Bility insists that he has what it takes to land the top job and hopes to usher in a new regime of transparency in a body under pressure from sponsors and fans demanding wholesale reform. Blatter announced his intention to resign after the corruption scandal that tore through world football's governing body and an election to appoint a new President has been set for 26 February.
And Bility believes that he, not Platini is the favorite to land the top job. "How can you say that he [Platini] is the favourite?" Bility said in an interview with Omnisport. "I mean, if the favourite is a popular candidate, then you have to show me his popularity. "I think that I am the favourite. I come from the most popular continent. I do represent the largest block in football where the underprivileged nations are.
Bility argues that the rest of the world must be brought into parity with Europe, where Mr. Platini has been running football for the last eight years. "There are serious problems in FIFA but, like I said, you cannot excuse Mr. Platini from those problems, where was he?
He was in the boardroom for eight years. Did you hear from him? Did he say anything? "I mean, come on. All of these things that we are all crying about today - what has he said? He's said Mr Blatter should resign, okay. Mr Blatter has resigned. Let's start again new. "It would be a travesty and it would be hypocrisy if Mr. Blatter should be replaced by Mr. Platini."