FIFA has confirmed the five candidates for the vacant position of president of world football’s governing body, which takes place in Zurich on February 26.
The five candidates are Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Tokyo Sexwale, Jerome Champagne and Gianni Infantino.
The presidential election was prompted by Sepp Blatter’s decision to stand down amidst the FIFA corruption scanda. Blatter had been president of FIFA since 1998.
Infantino, the Uefa general secretary, and Asian Football Confederation chief Sheikh Salman are seen as the favourites to take over from Blatter.
UEFA president Michel Platini was initially seen as the favourite to be named Blatter’s successor, but the FIFA ethics committee has since banned the Frenchman from football for eight years.
Plattini has taken his to the FIFA appeals committee and if that bid fails, he has expressed his intention to approach the Court of Arbitration for Sport on the matter.
Here is a closer look at the candidates:
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa
Current position: Asian Football Confederation president and FIFA vice-president
Previous position: A former head of the Bahrain Football Association.
The right man for the job? As a FIFA vice-president and with global support Sheikh Salman would be a very strong candidate if it was not for his alleged links to human rights violations in Bahrain.
What he said: “With the support I’m going to get we’re going to turn it around very quick. We have big examples of football organisations around the world – the Premier League, the Bundesliga, even UEFA – who have, from a football side and a revenue side. And this is what we want to bring to FIFA.”
Prince Ali bin al-Hussein
Current Position: President of Jordan Football Association. Founder and president of the West Asian Football Federation.
Previous positions: Former FIFA vice-president.
The right man for the job? Despite being the champion of a number of good causes, including the lifting of FIFA’s ban on the hijab, he lacks support.
What he said: “Ten months ago, I was the only person who dared to challenge Mr Blatter for the Presidency of FIFA. I ran because I believe that FIFA needs change. And I had the courage to fight for change when others were afraid.”
Current Position: Prominent South African businessman
Previous Positions: Anti-apartheid campaigner who was jailed on Robben Island, before later going on to become a government minister. A member of FIFA anti-discrimination task force.
The right man for the job? A shrewd businessman but his involvement in South Africa’s 2010 World Cup bid team which has been the subject of allegations of bribery and corruption does not reflect well.
What he said: “Having spent time inside FIFA, I am more than ready to take on the world. I think it was a vote of confidence by people who I can only say understand who I am and what I will be able to bring to football. FIFA, the organisation of the beautiful game, is damaged. The brand is severely undermined.”
Current position: Football consultant
Previous position: Served as a French diplomat from 1983 to 1998, before working as an executive at FIFA from 1999 to 2010, including as an advisor to Sepp Blatter.
Is he the right man for the job? Has the necessary experience, but there are doubts regarding whether he has sufficient support.
What he said: “FIFA needs someone who understands the game and the world, who can relate to the various cultures of our planet, who can impulse the reforms and the energy to govern the game worldwide. Not necessarily a former player or coach.”
Current Position: Has been UEFA general secretary since 2009
Previous positions: Joined UEFA in 2000 as a lawyer.
The right man for the job? Has the unanimous backing of UEFA’s executive committee, and has a much cleaner image than many other candidates.
What he said: “[My manifesto] will be based on the need for reform and also for a FIFA that genuinely serves the interests of all 209 national associations, big or small, and that puts football and football development at the top of its agenda. If elected I would lead that change in partnership with all who want to see a FIFA worthy of governing the world’s number one sport with dignity and respect.”