Fifa clears five candidates to replace Blatter
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Five men have been given the green light to try to become the top administrator at world football's governing body Fifa. The successful candidate will succeed Sepp Blatter as president following the vote in February.
The five who met the qualifications following a series of integrity tests are:
- Jordan's Prince Ali Al Hussein,
- Bahraini Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa,
- Frenchman Jérôme Champagne,
- Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino,
- South African Tokyo Sexwale.
The candidacy of Michel Platini, the suspended head of European football's ruling organisation Uefa, who had been the favourite to succeed Blatter, will be examined once his 90-day ban by Fifa's ethics committee is over.
He was suspended last month after the committee launched an investigation into a 1.1-million-euro payment he recieved from Blatter in 2011 for work the Frenchman had completed nine years earlier.
Fifa said Platini's application will be considered when his suspension has ended. The only candidate to be disqualified after receiving initial approval was Musa Bility, the head of the Liberia Football Association. Fifa said it had explained the reasons for disqualification privately to Bility.
The remaining five have checkered careers in and around the corridors of power:
- Al Hussein is something of a lone wolf. The 39-year-old Jordanian reached the second round during the last presidential election in May. He has some support from sections of Uefa but won't be able to count on the backing from the Asian Football Confederation which is unsurprisingly behind its 49-year-old president Sheikh Salman.
- Infantino's decision to move for the top post followed the temporary demise of Platini, his boss at Uefa. Infantino, 45, has been general secretary at Uefa for the last six years and the multilingual ex-lawyer is an acknowledged mover and shaker behind the scenes in Europe. He has said that he will withdraw if Platini is allowed to run.
- Such largesse is unlikely even from a former diplomat such as Champagne. In an interview last weekend with the newspaper SonntagsBlick, the 57-year-old Frenchman said he was ousted from his Fifa role as assistant secretary general in 2010 because he was becoming too powerful with his desire to reform. Champagne might also face problems for being regarded as too close to Blatter.
- Sexwale is at the other extreme. The 62-year-old South African is not close to anyone. He may have served Fifa as an advisor on antiracism but has no credentials as a football administrator. Ironically, that may be an asset for the businessman who spent time as a political prisoner on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela. Butr he might find that apartheid was easier to defeat than gaining the top job at Fifa.
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