A frantic last day ended with eight candidates submitting applications to become the outgoing Sepp Blatter’s replacement at Fifa, including the Uefa General Secretary, Gianni Infantino.
Confusingly, Michel Platini, the current President of Uefa, has submitted his own application despite an ongoing a 90 day ban concerning an investigation into a disputed payment of £1.3m in 2011. Despite the ban he’s been allowed to run by Fifa in the event that he wins an appeal against his ban, the first of which was rejected.
A former lawyer, Infantino has worked closely alongside Platini for the past six years, and announced that he would run after receiving the unanimous backing of the Uefa executive committee.
It is necessary to secure five nominations from separate FAs to run which led to former Brazil star Zico withdrawing his application. The other candidates who successfully launched their bids for the role are Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, Jerome Champagne, Liberian FA President Musa Bility, former Trinidad and Tobago player David Nakhid, South African businessman and politician Tokyo Sexwale, and Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the President of the Asian football Confederation.
A statement from Uefa executive committee said: “The forthcoming election for a new Fifa president represents a crucial moment in the governance of the game and the future of Fifa itself. We believe that Gianni Infantino has all of the qualities required to tackle the major challenges ahead and to lead the organisation on a path of reform to restore Fifa’s integrity and credibility.”
Platini was not mentioned, whilst Infantino himself has this to say: “I will in due course be setting out my detailed thinking in a manifesto which will address the challenges and opportunities ahead. It 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.”
Despite previously suggesting he might step aside should the African Football Confederation (CAF) back Sexwale’s bid, Musa Bility has claimed that he is the sole credible candidate, and stated: “I don’t see any real challengers because all the others who are running have played some part (in FIFA affairs) and if we have to reform football, none of them should be given the right to run the organisation.”
Sexwale is a former anti-apartheid activist who was imprisoned alongside Nelson Mandela, and has succeeded in politics and business since his release. He has received the full backing of the South African Football Association’s (SAFA) National Executive Committee, and SAFA President Danny Jordaan has said: “It was a unanimous decision and we will now move to engage CAF on our decision and see how we can coordinate our decisions going forward.”