As Luis Figo exited a hotel elevator on his way to breakfast, he was approached by a fan carrying a cardboard tube.

The man, who had waited at least an hour for the one-time world's best soccer player at the Bourbon hotel in Asuncion, Paraguay, produced a drawing of Figo before asking the 42-year- old to pose for pictures. If it was down to the adulation of soccer fans, Figo might be coasting to victory in his bid to unseat Sepp Blatter as president of the sport's governing body FIFA. He knows it isn't.

"It's a pity," Figo said with a laugh, reflecting on the support a man who represented both Real Madrid and Barcelona in 20-year success-filled playing career could expect if fans had a say in the May 29 election. Instead, Figo and his rivals — Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Dutch soccer head Michael van Praag and Blatter — have a constituency of 209 federation leaders to woo.