LONDON (Reuters) - The English FA have thrown their weight behind Michel Platini's bid to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.
"We support Michel Platini’s candidacy," FA chairman Greg Dyke said in a statement.
"We have a good relationship with him and hope he can gain the necessary global backing to lead a new FIFA during the most difficult period in its history.
"We understand there will be a number of candidates, which should result in a strong and healthy debate. However, we should not underestimate how challenging it will be for anyone to lead an organization that has been so tainted. The whole structure of FIFA must be reviewed and fundamentally changed."
Platini ended weeks of uncertainty on Wednesday when he announced that he would stand for the presidency of FIFA in place of outgoing Swiss Blatter.
The former France captain, the UEFA president since 2007 and a FIFA executive committee member since 2002, has written to the 209 member associations of FIFA, who each hold one vote in the presidential election, to inform them of his decision.
Dyke said Platini was the best man to bring about reform at world soccer's scandal-plagued governing body.
"With FA vice-chairman David Gill newly-appointed to the FIFA executive committee and the level of worldwide scrutiny on the reform process, the opportunity is there to bring about positive change," Dyke added.
"While we have yet to see Mr Platini’s manifesto, we believe he will fully support an ongoing reform process."
Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term as president on May 29, but four days later said he would lay down his mandate amid the worst crisis in FIFA's history. Blatter will remain as president until the election on Feb. 26.
Once seen as a Blatter protege, Platini has recently become a leading critic of the 79-year-old. He urged Blatter not to stand for re-election in May and said the series of recent scandals involving FIFA turned his stomach.
(Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Ken Ferris)