FIFA presidency: Eight candidates beat deadline; Kalu, Odegbami missing

Tokyo Sexwale

Eight candidates are in the race to succeed suspended FIFA president Joseph Sepp Blatter  after a couple of late entries before the deadline for nominations passed 11 pm on Monday.

Conspicuously missing in the line up are Nigeria’s former international, Segun Odegbami and former governor Orji Uzor Kalu. As at Monday, Odegbami was still chasing the endorsement of the Nigerian Football Federation, one of the  conditions for nomination. In addition, he needed the support of four other federations.

Also missing was another former player, Brazil’s Zico. He  was forced to call an end to his hopes after failing to secure five nominations before the deadline of 11pm GMT.

In the race are : Tokyo Sexwale, Prince Ali, Jerome Champagne, Sheikh Salman, Michel Platini, Gianni Infantino, David Nakhid, Musa Bility.

Musa Bility

UEFA’s general secretary Gianni Infantino announced he will run for the presidency of the world governing body following a last-minute meeting of the European body’s executive committee.

Infantino – Michel Platini’s right-hand man for the last six years – received the unanimous backing of UEFA’s executive committee. Platini has also submitted his candidacy for the election but is currently banned for 90 days pending a disciplinary hearing into a £1.3million payment signed off by outgoing president Sepp Blatter in 2011.

 The other candidates who have submitted their candidacies are Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the leader of Asian football, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan, former Trinidad and Tobago player David Nakhid, former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne and Liberian FA president Musa Bility.

Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan (C) : One of FIFA presidential candidates

A spokesman for South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale, a former anti-apartheid activist who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela, said he has secured the five nominations necessary to run.

The eight candidates will all have to pass integrity checks before taking part in the election on February 26.

Infantino, who is understood to have held talks with senior figures in the Asian confederation about standing, could step down if Platini is cleared of all charges, but otherwise would be a strong candidate in his own right.

Gianni Infantino

Infantino said: “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.”

Sheikh Salman

Sheikh Salman, who is from Bahrain, is influential in football – he commands widespread support in Asia and is a close ally of Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah from Kuwait.

Michel Platini: still in the race

A member of the Bahrain royal family, he has attracted opposition from human rights organisations due to the regime’s role in the suppression of the country’s pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011.

A statement from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said: ”Sheikh Salman has assured the AFC executive committee, who offered him overwhelming support, and the 47 AFC member associations that his campaign will be entirely self-financed and that he will not use the AFC’s resources, human or otherwise, in the election.”