Football Football

The five men vying for FIFA’s top job




The five contenders for FIFA presidency: (clockwise from top L) Gianni Infantino, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, Jerome Champagne, Tokyo Sexwale and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein

ZURICH, Friday 26 – FIFA elects a new president on Friday, a vote seen as crucial to restoring the image of world football’s scandal-tainted governing body.

Here are the five men vying for the job

– UEFA’s man –

Gianni Infantino made his name as UEFA’s master of ceremonies but behind the scenes he has also played a key role in giving the European confederation the financial power to rival FIFA while serving as its secretary general.

The shaven-headed Swiss-Italian lawyer is in a close fight to win the presidency, after coming out of the shadows with an ambitious plan for FIFA, including expanding the World Cup and giving more money to federations.

– The Sheikh –

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa is a football executive and senior member of the Bahrain royal family, whose sister is the wife of the Gulf state’s king.

A front-runner, he has built up heavyweight support despite human rights questions shadowing his campaign and has vowed to make FIFA rise like a “phoenix”.

– The prince –

The brother of a king and an army major general and former FIFA executive, Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan won praise for his challenge against Sepp Blatter in FIFA’s presidential election last year.

But the frustrated Arsenal fan has struggled to win support this time, campaigning against the “backroom deals” that he says are one of the biggest causes of FIFA’s long-standing troubles.

– Pele’s choice –

Jerome Champagne spent 11 years as a top FIFA official under Sepp Blatter and is not ashamed of the football baron’s tainted legacy as his reign ends in disgrace.

Champagne, very much a longshot to become FIFA’s leader despite a Pele endorsement, said that “to carry out reforms you have to know an institution from the inside”.

– Anti-apartheid hero –

Tokyo Sexwale served prison time with Nelson Mandela and became a tycoon and politician, but none of that has boosted his attempt to become the first African to head FIFA.

He has endured constant criticism of his campaign, failing to secure the support of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and he may not even get South Africa’s vote.