Bwalya believes it is too early for Figo to challenge Blatter

By Kennedy GondweBBC Sport, Lusaka
Kalusha Bwalya
Zambia Football Association president Kalusha Bwalya would prefer to see Luis Figo gain experience with the Portuguese football federation before trying to take on Fifa president Sepp Blatter

African football legend Kalusha Bwalya says it is too early for Luis Figo to challenge for the presidency of football's world governing body Fifa.

Figo, 42, a former world player of the year, is one of three candidates who will challenge Sepp Blatter on 29 May.

"Luis Figo was a fantastic player, a world-class player," said Bwalya, Zambia Football Association president.

"I'd have loved to see Figo go into the Portuguese football association, learn the ropes then come out."

Bwalya, who is also the executive member of the Confederation of African Football (Caf), added: "There are other former footballers, like Davor Suker, who's heading an association in Europe [Croatia].

"It's the logical way but he [Figo] has decided to go for the big position. It's going to be very difficult in my opinion."

Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo
Figo was one of Real Madrid's 'Galacticos' alongside the likes of Roberto Carlos, Brazilian Ronaldo and Frenchman Zinedine Zidane

Bwalya, the 1988 African Footballer of the Year award winner, said most of the associations have already decided who they will vote for, for the Fifa presidency.

He said Africa has decided to back Blatter for another four-year term despite the Swiss having been at the helm since 1998.

"We as Africa - myself included - have said we will back Blatter for another term because he has the requisite passion to carry football in the next four years," Bwalya said.

"From where we're standing, it would have been better for him [Figo] to start at association level to know the challenges. He would have been better prepared.

"In this situation we have made a commitment to president Sepp Blatter. We are happy with the way he has run things."

Figo, 42, whose career included successful stints with Spanish clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid, will also face competition from Dutch football federation president Michael van Praag and Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.

On whether he himself would consider running for either the Caf or Fifa presidency, Bwalya laughed off any immediate plans.

"Everything in its time," he said.

"I think we have good leaders in Issa Hayatou [caf president] and Sepp Blatter."

Michael van Praag
Both Van Praag (above) and Figo want to extend the size of the World Cup if elected Fifa president, with Figo calling for a 48-team tournament

Meanwhile, Van Praag believes there is less chance of unseating Blatter with both himself and Figo standing for election on 29 May.

"What Figo thinks about that I don't know, but it would be much better for Europe if we presented one candidate," said the Dutch FA chief.

"Figo is more photogenic. All the South American member association presidents wanted to take their photo with him.

"But they didn't want to say if they would vote for him," he added.