Out With The Old, In With The… Old?

Football’s international governing body, FIFA, recently announced the list of candidates who have been accepted to challenge for the FIFA presidency and the right to step in to the corrupt and broken shoes of outgoing President Sepp Blatter. Seven men applied, with five having been provisionally approved. They may all be screaming and shouting about cleaning up football, but don’t expect too much. Time to meet the candidates.

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein

Age: 39

Country: Jordan

Current Occupation: FIFA Vice President, President of the West Asian Football Federation, 5th in line to the throne of Jordan

Prince Ali, fabulous he. FIFA really are ringing bells, banging drums and screaming ‘Ah! You’re gonna love this guy’ for this fresh faced Jordanian royal. He was the only challenger to Platter in May and managed to take Blatter to a second round of voting, even though he conceded before the second ballot took place.

Portrayed as the ‘man of the people’, he’s probably about as good as it gets for FIFA. He promises a fresh start, but was still reported to have told FIFA executives ‘I am one of you’. He has been Jordanian FA president since 1999 when he er, inherited it from his older brother, current King of Jordan Abdullah II.

He won’t bring about a revolution but it seems like the FIFA stooges are going to have to make way for Prince Ali.

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa

Age: 50
Country: Bahrain
Current Occupation: President of the Asian Football Confederation, Member of Bahraini Royal Family, Athlete Torturer…allegedly

Sepp Blatter wasn’t great but at least he didn’t torture athletes, allegedly that is. Yes, Sheik Salman reportedly led a committee that identified 150 athletes, including professional footballers, rounded them up, imprisoned and later tortured them for taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain.

Somehow the world’s least favourite Khalifa is the bookies’ second favourite at the moment, which is staggering as he’s a staunch Blatter supporter. He hailed the outgoing President as “Dear President” in a recent speech at the Asian Football Confederation Congress. The AFC, by the way, makes even Gotham look clean.

Gianni Infantino

Age: 45
Current Occupation:
UEFA General Secretary, Michel Platini impersonator, Ball Jiggler

Mr Charisma himself stepped into the frame on deadline day and has since received full backing from UEFA. Known for his hosting skills during the UEFA draws that make Eurovision presenters look like comedy geniuses, this man looks certain to add some drama to this presidential race.

Infantino has stated, however, that should Michel Platini be allowed to run for the position he will immediately withdraw. So much for change…

Jerome Champagne

Age: 57
Current Occupation:
International Football Consultant, Former French Diplomat, Former Advisor to Sepp Blatter

The Frenchman failed to secure enough support to challenge Blatter earlier this year but has been given a new lease of life thanks to the suspension of the Swiss incumbent. He has been making the usual promises of “restoring credibility” and “radical reform” but may be a bit too close to the old regime for many people’s taste.

He recently stated that “Blatter had football at heart” and will “be judged by history for what he has achieved”. He’s got to deal with a real judge first.

Tokyo Sexwale

Age: 62

Country: South Africa

Current Occupation: Counting his money, Mining Tycoon, Former Member of 2010 WC Organising Committee

It’s pronounced sex-wa-le, unfortunately. Yes this human combination of a Japanese city, Japanese cuisine and well, the other part may be the bookies’ outsider but is certainly a contender. He is charismatic and has some appealing life experiences. This former political prisoner, close friend of Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid activist seems to have it all but his links to Blatter cannot be ignored.

He was a member of the South African World Cup organising committee, which is coming under increased scrutiny for alleged bribes paid to secure the world’s premier football festival. Naturally, he denies all wrongdoing.

The host of the South African Apprentice promises a shake-up in the sport and, even with his flaws, is one of the more likely to do it.

Dishonourable Mention:

Michel Platini

Country: France

Current Occupation: Suspended UEFA President

Platini has been suspended by FIFA for an alleged £1.35m ‘illegal payment’ and could be facing a seven-month ban from the sport. Boo-hoo.

The former France international had long been lined up to replace Blatter but that came tumbling down over the summer and Platini is currently ineligible to stand for election. However should his ban be overturned Gianni Infantino will withdraw and Platini will get UEFA’s backing.

His corrupt dealings became clear when it was revealed by none other than Sepp Blatter that Platini had a sudden change of heart to vote for Qatar to stage the 2022 World Cup after a meeting with the Qatari ruler and then French President Nicolas Sarkozy. He cannot be allowed to stand.

Matthew Smith

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