Profiles 23 February 2016

FIFA Presidential Election 2016: Guess Who?

A who’s who guide of the candidates in the 2016 FIFA Presidential election…

Prince Ali Al Hussein FIFAAli2

Nationality: Jordan      Age: 40

Betting odds: 12/1

In a nutshell: youngest in the field, considered a nice guy but lacking gravitas

Manifesto: My Vision for FIFA and Football (Launched: 7th January 2016)

Key policy: the only candidate to recommend the creation of an independent FIFA oversight group (to be led by former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan)

Twitter: @AliForFIFA


Slogan: “It’s time to shift the focus back to football”

Supporters (national football associations, eligible to vote): 5

Supporters (notable others): José Ramos-Horta, former President of East Timor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate; Diego Maradona, former Argentine footballer

Previous election challenges: 2015 FIFA Presidency election, Blatter 133 v 73 Prince Ali (first round)

Employment history:
– Jordan Football Association, President;
– West Asian Football Federation, Founder & President;
– FIFA Vice-President for Asia & FIFA Executive Committee member

What the experts say:
If Prince Ali ever has a shot at running Fifa, it’s now.’ Simon Kuper, The Financial Times.

Prince Ali may well be a good guy, he seems earnest and committed, but Fifa is going to need more than a ‘trust me’ from a long-time insider.’ Roger Pielke Jr., Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Colorado.

He’ll be on the fringes. His big problem is a lack of core support. I’ll be intrigued to see how many votes he does get.’ Martyn Ziegler, Chief Sports Reporter, The Times.

‘…a sizeable proportion – mainly UEFA-based – who declared their support then would have done so mainly in protest to Blatter, rather than genuine affinity to Prince Ali, and will now back Infantino, while Sheikh Salman’s profile in Asia means he will struggle to gain significant numbers in his home confederation.’ James Piercy, Sport 360.

‘We were also impressed by Prince Ali, but in the end we decided to go with the UEFA candidate [Infantino].’ Greg Dyke, Chairman, the Football Association.

‘If fans were given a vote in this week’s FIFA Presidential election, Prince Ali of Jordan would be the winner according to a global fans’ poll.’ #NewFIFANow, campaign group.


Gianni Infantino FIFAGianni

Nationality: Switzerland           Age: 45

Betting odds: 6/4

In a nutshell: heavyweight in Platini’s absence, with the numbers to go with it

Manifesto: Taking Football Forward (Launched: 19th January 2016)

Key policy: increasing the number of teams at the World Cup to 40 for “greater worldwide representation”

Twitter: @Gianni_2016   


Slogan: “Taking football forward.”

Supporters (national football associations, eligible to vote): 60+

Supporters (notable others): José Mourinho, former Chelsea and Real Madrid manager; Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager; Gianluigi Buffon, Italian goalkeeper; Luis Figo, former Portuguese footballer; Union of European Football Associations (UEFA)

Previous election challenges: n/a

Employment history:
– UEFA, General Secretary;
– UEFA, Director of Legal Affairs and Club Licensing Division;
– International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES), Secretary General;
– lawyer

What the experts say:
‘I think he’s got good professionalism, discipline, organisational ability and knowledge of the game.’ Sir Alex Ferguson, former Manchester United manager.

‘The accidental candidate – only nominated as a place-marker for Michel Platini, but now the ‘main man’ for UEFA.’ Bonita Mersiades, football reform activist and writer.

‘Infantino has significant momentum + [sic] has made gains in Asia in recent days.’ Richard Conway, Sports News Correspondent, BBC Sport.

‘A bureaucrat who was Michel Platini’s right-hand man at UEFA.’ Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe and co-founder of #NewFIFANow.

‘Salman’s chief election rival, Infantino, admits to regularly consulting disgraced & banned ex-UEFA boss Platini….new FIFA?’ Dan Roan, BBC Sports Editor.


Jérôme ChampagneFIFAJerome

Nationality: France      Age: 57

Betting odds: 66/1

In a nutshell: self-proclaimed “only independent candidate”, competent and arguably most open, but lacks the institutional support despite lengthy FIFA experience

Manifesto: Hope for Football (Launched: 23rd October 2015)

Key policy: reformed Executive Committee, without oversight of commercial contracts

Twitter: @JChampagne2016


Slogan: “Re-balance the game in a globalized 21st Century”

Supporters (national football associations, eligible to vote): 2

Supporters (notable others): Philippe Piat, President of FIFPro; Segun Odegbami, former Nigerian footballer; Pelé, former Brazilian footballer; Marco van Basten, former Dutch footballer

Previous election challenges: 2015 FIFA Presidency election, withdrew in February 2015 after failing to win enough support

Employment history:
– FIFA, Deputy Secretary General
– FIFA, Director of International Relations
– France98, Diplomatic Advisor and Chief of Protocol
– French Diplomatic Service

What the experts say:
Prince Ali withdrew from planned Fifa candidate event due to fears it would breach electoral rules. Champagne [was the] only one not to cancel.’ Richard Conway, Sports News Correspondent, BBC Sport.

‘He should be the sort of football leader anyone would want. And yet. And yet the Blatter factor looms large.’ James Corbett, sports correspondent.

‘Rank outsider, thanks in part to credible policies.’ David Hills, The Guardian.

‘Despite his extensive knowledge of how FIFA operates after 11 years of working there and some bright ideas, he may struggle to find support from beyond Europe.’ Vivek Chaudhary, ESPN FC.


Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-KhalifaFIFASalman

Nationality: Bahrain     Age: 50

Betting odds: 8/15 (favourite)

In a nutshell: conservative Bahraini royal, previously a strong supporter of Blatter, now frontrunner

Manifesto: World Football: Redefined, Restructured, Revitalised (Launched: 23 October 2015)

Key policy: separate FIFA’s commercial activities from its regulatory activities which run and govern football professionally

Twitter: n/a


Slogan: “World Football: Redefined, Restructured, Revitalised”

Previous election challenges: n/a

Supporters (national football associations, eligible to vote): 2

Supporters (notable others): Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Confederation of African Football (CAF)

Previous election challenges: n/a previously supported Blatter

Employment history:
– Asian Football Confederation, President
– Bahrain Football Association, President
– Bahrain Olympic Committee, Vice President
– FIFA, Disciplinary Committee Deputy Chairman

What the experts say:
I personally have a problem with Sheikh Salman. I don’t think anyone from Bahrain should be president of FIFA … given their attitude to human rights.’ Greg Dyke, Chairman, The Football Association.

Democracy clearly not high up on Sheikh Salman’s agenda. Transparency/ accountability don’t seem to be either.‘ Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe and co-founder of #NewFIFANow.

The Bahraini royal began the five-candidate contest knowing his home country’s human rights record and treatment of national team players after Arab Spring protests in 2011 would be an issue.’ The New York Times.

Salman has put forward proposals for reform of FIFA that have merit … [but] I have no doubt that Salman is the wrong man for the job….’ James Dorsey, ethnic and religious conflict journalist.

Convincing the wider world that installing a Sheikh from a feudal monarchy who owes his position to those now under suspicion represents progress will be a tougher job altogether.’ Owen Gibson, The Guardian.

‘It [his manifesto] says many of the right things, whilst also studiously ignoring others.’ Bonita Mersiades, football reform activist and writer.


Tokyo SexwaleFIFATokyo

Nationality: South Africa         Age: 62

Betting odds: 50/1

In a nutshell: critics argue his was a scarce and poorly run public campaign which has come without the endorsement of Sexwale’s own continent’s confederation

Manifesto: It’s more than just a game (Launched: 18 November 2015; NB only released to local media)

Key policy: to “seriously explore” the possibility of having a sponsor on national team kits

Twitter: @sexwaletokyo (inactive, last tweeted in July 2011)

Website: n/a

Slogan: “It is more than just a game!” 

Supporters (national football associations, eligible to vote): n/a

Supporters (notable others): n/a

Previous election challenges: n/a

Employment history:
– 2010 World Cup, Organising Committee
– FIFA, Committee on Racism & Discrimination; Media Committee
– politician, South Africa’s Minister of Human Settlements
– businessman, diamond mining industry
– anti-apartheid activist & Robben Island prisoner

What the experts say:
Sleeping in the same prison room with Nelson Mandela is not enough to win the FIFA presidency.’ Kwesi Nyantakyi, Chairman, Ghana Football Association.

The NEC (National Executive Committee), which is the highest decision-making body of the association, raised concerns about his low-profile campaign and they want him to come and explain himself.’ Dominic Chimhavi, spokesman, South African Football Association.

That [Twitter] account last tweeted in 2011. Like the man himself, looks good but not very effective.’ Neal Collins, South African sports journalist.

Tokyo Sexwale appears to regard the role of running football’s governing body as something he can do in his spare time.’ Keir Radnedge, sports author and journalist.

It’s an attention to detail that Sexwale, seen by some as a football outsider, will need to improve if he is to persuade the football fraternity that he’s the best man to replace Blatter.’ Piers Edwards, BBC Africa Sport.

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