Fifa presidential race: who’s standing to replace Sepp Blatter?

Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino joins list of eight standing for Fifa presidency in February 2016.

Fifa presidential race: who’s standing to replace Sepp Blatter?

The suspended presidency of Sepp Blatter will come to a conclusive end at a Fifa special congress next February, when his successor will be decided.

Blatter has been Fifa president since 1998 and was re-elected to lead soccer’s world governing body for another four-year term in May, only to announce his intention to resign a matter of days later in the wake of the Fifa corruption storm.

Blatter is currently serving a provisional 90-day suspension from Fifa, along with Uefa president and Fifa vice-president Michel Platini, and Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke. The suspensions were handed out by Fifa’s independent ethics committee in early October, with all three men under investigation by the committee over corruption allegations.

Despite Fifa’s announcement that it cannot recognise his candidacy while he remains suspended, Frenchman Michel Platini, the head of Uefa since 2007, maintains he will stand for the global body’s presidency in February. He is appealing his ban, along with Blatter.

Joining Platini in the race is Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, a former Fifa vice-president who was the only candidate to stand against Blatter in the election in May. Prince Ali received 73 votes to take the election beyond a first-round before conceding to Blatter.

Another Frenchman, former Fifa deputy general secretary Jérome Champagne, announced that he would stand just days before Monday’s deadline. Champagne stood as a candidate for the presidency in May but was forced to withdraw after failing to receive the five nominations required from national associations. In his seven-page manifesto, Champagne said: “The events of the past few months have renewed my determination to be a candidate. We need to save Fifa and its role of governance and redistribution, which is in danger at a time when they are needed the most.”

"We need to save Fifa and its role of governance and redistribution, which is in danger at a time when they are needed the most.”

Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheik Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain formally joined the list of candidates ahead of the final day of applications. Infantino has been Platini’s right-hand man at Uefa since 2009 and is expected to drop out of the running should Platini’s appeal prove successful.

Sheikh Salman, meanwhile, has been leader of the AFC since 2013. His candidacy has come under heavy criticism from human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, due to allegations of “complicity in crimes against humanity” for allegedly heading a committee that identified, imprisoned and tortured 150 athletes involved in pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011. He denies the allegations.

The remaining candidates to succeed Blatter are former Trinidad & Tobago international player David Nakhid, Liberian Football Association president Musa Bility, who was a candidate for the 2015 election but withdrew his candidacy to allow Prince Ali to run against Blatter alone, and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale, a former politician and human rights activist who was imprisoned on Robben Island during the apartheid era.

Former Fifa vice-president Chung Mong-joon had also announced his intention to stand, but as the window for filing candidacy loomed the South Korean automotive tycoon revealed on his newly-launched blog, mjfairplay.com, that he was withdrawing after failing to lift what he called an “unjust” six-year ban from soccer, imposed on him by Fifa’s independent ethics committee in early October.

The next Fifa president will be decided at a special congress on 26th February 2016.