Europe’s Gianni Infantino and Asian football leader Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa led the five man battle for votes ahead of crisis-stricken FIFA’s landmark vote tomorrow for a new president.
Amid final political attacks and pleas, Sheikh Salman, Infantino and their rivals went to regional confederation meetings in Zurich today ahead of tomorrow’s vote to find a replacement for Sepp Blatter.
Football’s multi-billion dollar world governing body has been in turmoil since the arrest of seven football officials in Zurich at a Congress in May over more than $200 million (182 million euros) paid in bribes. Others have been arrested and Blatter has since been suspended for six years.
All the candidates have said tomorrow’s vote will be one of the most important in FIFA history.
Infantino called the Congress “a crossroads moment for FIFA” and said the decisions taken “will shape football for generations to come”.
“FIFA needs to turn the page on the controversies,” said French contender Jerome Champagne, a former FIFA official.
Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan said :”We have to restore first of all confidence for the sponsors, for our fans worldwide and in order to do so we have to be open, we have to be transparent to bring this organisation into the 21st century.”
Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa is the fifth candidate. He insisted he will stay in the campaign and called FIFA a “broken house”.
Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini returned to hog the headlines when FIFA rejected their appeals against eight year bans but reduced their punishment to six years.
On the campaign trail, the focus is on Sheikh Salman and Infantino. Their battle for votes was said to be too close to call.