No fewer than 209 FIFA-recognized countries including Nigeria will today gather in Zurich, Switzerland to elect new FIFA President after Former boss Sep Blatter stepped down June last year and was subsequently banned from all football-related activities.
Delegates will storm the election ground amidst battered image on the world’s soccer governing body with CAF President Isa Hayatou on the saddle temporarily.
Going into the poll, a two-thirds majority is required for victory in the opening round; in subsequent rounds more than 50 per cent of the vote is needed, with the candidate receiving the lowest number of votes dropping out.
Before today, front runners Asia’s Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Europe’s Gianni Infantino and Jordanian Prince Ali appear to enjoy early lead if the popularity impression they have garnered over time is anything to go by. Other candidates Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale and Jerome Champagne may face difficult times at the poll even as Confederation of African Football, the continent’s soccer controlled body with the highest voting power has since dumped their own and openly declared support for Salman.
What is obviously clear is that a winner must be declared after all as an ice hockey rink needs to be laid at midnight for a match at the same Hallenstadion venue the following day.
It will be recalled that Sepp Blatter dramatically announced last that he would step aside after 18 years as Fifa president.
The 79-year-old Swiss said he was “laying down his mandate”, which has led to some concern he may not have actually resigned.
However, Fifa officials are confident he will not make an awkward re-appearance – not least because he has been banned from football for eight years over a “disloyal payment” of £1.3m to suspended Uefa president Michel Platini.
Both men deny wrongdoing and are appealing against their bans.
Blatter also has no accreditation to get into the conference hall on the outskirts of Zurich where the congress is being held.
There are two big issues to settle.
First, the representatives have to agree to a package of reforms designed to eliminate the problems that have plunged Fifa into crisis in recent months and restore its reputation.
Acting president Hayatou has been very active in spreading the message about the need to adopt the raft of proposals.
Hayatou was censured by the International Olympic Committee for his part in the ISL scandal – where the sports marketing company paid $100m (£66.2m) to officials, including former Fifa president Joao Havelange and ex-Fifa executive Ricardo Teixeira, in return for lucrative television and marketing rights throughout the 1990s.
Additionally, he has been accused of taking a $1.5m (£1.1m) bribe from Qatar to vote in favour of their bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Both he and Qatar categorically deny any wrongdoing.
So it is of interest that Hayatou has been at the forefront of the reform efforts.
Hayatou has an unassailable reputation (although not in Europe) amongst large sections of the 209 Fifa nations, despite his alleged wrongdoing. His voice carries weight amongst the “family” and the vote should therefore be carried without any issues.
Interestingly, the FIFA Executive Committee ahead of election today unanimously urged FIFA’s member associations to approve the full slate of proposed reforms enshrined in the new draft FIFA Statutes at the Extraordinary Congress.
Furthermore, the committee approved new Governance Regulations which were drawn up by the 2016 FIFA Reform Committee to strengthen the fundamental principles of the proposed new statutes. The coming into force of the FIFA Governance Regulations is subject to the approval of the proposed statutory amendments at the Extraordinary FIFA Congress on Friday.
“The eyes of the world are on us this week after one of the most challenging times in our history. The approval of the reforms will send a strong message that we have listened and that we are taking the action necessary to regain trust and improve our performance,” FIFA’s Acting President Issa Hayatou said on behalf of the FIFA Executive Committee, composed of representatives from each of the six regional confederations.
The new FIFA Governance Regulations include provisions in particular on the composition, duties and responsibilities as well as on the functioning of the future Council (replacing the Executive Committee), the President, the Secretary General, the standing committees, and the independent committees. They also govern the eligibility checks, the independence criteria, elections for the office of FIFA President and for members of the Council, and the auditing of FIFA and its members.
Regarding the currently suspended member associations of Indonesia and Kuwait, the Executive Committee recommended that the Extraordinary Congress decide today that both these cases be dealt with at the next ordinary Congress in Mexico (12 and 13 May 2016).

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