If anyone had doubts that football believes the time is right for change at FIFA, the roll call of people ready to unseat incumbent president Sepp Blatter should dispel them.

With the deadline to submit candidatures for the FIFA presidential election closing at 2300 GMT on Thursday, four men are optimistic of getting their names on the ballot paper for the vote in Zurich on May 29.

Blatter, the 78-year-old Swiss who has been president since 1998, will be bidding for a fifth term and, despite allegations of corruption which have dogged FIFA for years, he remains the overwhelming favourite to be re-elected.

But he is facing something he has not faced before because rather than having no opposition or just one opponent, he has challenges from across the world of football.

The first to declare his intentions a year ago was Frenchman Jerome Champagne, who was FIFA's former deputy secretary general before leaving the organisation in 2010.

Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan is currently on FIFA's executive committee as Asian vice-president and, at 39, would become the second youngest president in FIFA's 111-year history.

Michael van Praag, the 67-year-old president of the Dutch FA (KNVB), threw his hat into the ring saying it was time for Blatter to go.

Former Portugal winger Luis Figo is also in the running along with former France international David Ginola, although his candidature is nothing more than a publicity stunt for a bookmaking firm.

The key question, however, is whether any of the "serious" candidates stand a chance of unseating Blatter.

It would take the football world to shift on its axis for that to happen in this election, but with so many candidates tilting the balance away from Blatter that possibility remains.

As long as they can officially enter the race, Prince Ali, Van Praag, Champagne and Figo will have four months to go around the world trying to persuade the heads of FIFA's 20 member associations that the time has come for change.

Since Blatter replaced Havelange in 1998 when he beat Sweden's Lennart Johansson in a head-to-head contest, Blatter has only been directly challenged once -- when he saw off a lacklustre campaign in 2002 from Issa Hayatou of Cameroon.

FIFA has endured a non-stop pounding following its decision in 2010 to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

Corruption allegations surrounding those votes led to Michael Garcia's two-year-long inquiry into the voting process before he quit as FIFA's chief investigator in December saying there was no credible leadership at the top.

However, the majority of the men and women who will vote at the election would seem to disagree with him. In 1998 Blatter beat Johansson by 111-80 votes and in 2002 he defeated Hayatou 139-56.

The margins could be similar this time as five of FIFA's six confederations who met last year before the World Cup said they would be supporting Blatter's campaign.

He has the backing of the majority of Africa's 53 nations, at least half of Asia's 47 members, Oceania's 11, South America's 10, at least half the 35 votes from North and Central America and the Caribbean and the majority of eastern Europe.

Although that should be enough for him to win comfortably again, he cannot ignore the threat to his authority this time round.