Free Press Journal

Seven candidates in running for FIFA presidency


Paris: Football’s world-governing body FIFA today announced that it had confirmed seven cand dates had come forward to run in its election for a new president on February 26. The candidates proposed are Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Musa Bility, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino, Michel Platini, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Tokyo Sexwale.

Former Trinidad and Tobago footballer David Nakhid submitted his candidacy last week, but it was rejected on the grounds that one of the five national football associations he gave as endorsing him had already backed another candidate, a FIFA source said. Candidates need the backing of at least five of FIFA’s 209 association members before they can be considered.

FIFA said in a press release that, with the exception of UEFA chief Michel Platini, the candidature dossiers would be processed by its electoral committee. Platini is currently suspended from all football-related activities for 90 days as part of a clampdown on corruption and fraud at the heart of the FIFA operation.

“Should such a ban be lifted or expire before the FIFA presidential election, the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee would decide, depending on the respective exact point in time, on how to proceed with the candidature concerned,” the statement read.

FIFA said that the six other candidate dossiers had now been handed over by the Electoral Committee to the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee to carry out integrity checks.

The chamber will “deliver comprehensive documentation on each candidate, but it will not give any recommendation as to whether or not a candidate may run for the FIFA presidency.”

The next step will see the Ad-hoc Electoral Committee review the results of the integrity checks before formally declaring which candidates can stand for the FIFA presidency. The election next February comes as FIFA is engulfed in a massive corruption probe that has resulted in 90-day bans on Platini and the organisation’s long-standing president Sepp Blatter who is standing down after 17 years in the position.

Those suspensions run out on January 5. Platini, who starred as a footballer in the 1980s for Juventus and France, had been seen as a strong favourite to take over the FIFA presidency when an under-pressure Blatter announced in June he was standing down.

But as the corruption probe widened, the Frenchman found himself dragged into the scandal over a $2million clandestine payment he received from Blatter on behalf of FIFA in 2011 for consultancy work carried out years before.

Platini has insisted he did nothing wrong, but FIFA suspended him all the same, seriously undermining his hopes of capturing one of the top jobs in world sport. Until then his only declared opposition had been from Jordanian royal Prince Ali, who had already contested the FIFA presidency in May, losing to Blatter. But the suspension triggered a flurry of late activity with powerful Asian football chief Sheikh Salman, former FIFA official Champagne, South African anti-apartheid campaigner Sexwale, UEFA general secretary Infantino and Liberian football chief Bility all throwing their hats into the ring.

The contest to win votes for the presidency is already underway and will gather pace, but Platini will be hampered by the fact that he cannot campaign while his ban is in place. His lawyers have launched an appeal for it to be lifted.