News 30 December 2015

FIFA Presidential elections: debates, bans & subterfuge

A number of developments in the electoral race to become FIFA’s new President have recently been highlighted, which risk throwing the 26 February Extraordinary Congress in Zurich to elect a new FIFA President off course. Firstly, it has been alleged that FIFA may have manipulated facts and timelines in evidence submitted to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) concerning David Nakhid’s (pictured) appeal against FIFA’s rejection of his candidature for FIFA President.

David Nakhid & alleged FIFA subterfuge

Documents obtained by journalist Lasana Liburd suggest that Nakhid’s legal team argued that FIFA had attempted to mislead the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over who had submitted a letter of support from the St. Lucia football association. ‘FIFA objected when El Mir attempted to introduce “undisputable (sic) written evidence” on St Lucia’s nominations and CAS supposedly refused to hear the counterpoint to the football body’s alleged false testimony’, writes Liburd.

Liburd also alleges that FIFA attempted to induce David Nakhid to breach its Electoral Regulations by inviting the Presidential candidate to submit a letter of support from the US Virgin Islands (USVI), three days after it had already received a letter of USVI support from rival candidate, Jérôme Champagne. Nakhid was banned due to the USVI’s letter of support being invalidated due to it supporting more than one candidate, which is also prohibited by FIFA’s Electoral Regulations.

It is understood that Nakhid’s legal team argued that Champagne’s candidature should also have been invalidated, as his USVI letter of support was forwarded by his team, not the USVI. Liburd writes that FIFA argued that the practice of allowing candidates to submit letters of support was ‘well established’ and should therefore be allowed, despite its claim, highlighted earlier, regarding St. Lucia’s support for Nakhid.

Further action against Platini possible

Meanwhile, Michel Platini could face further action from the FIFA Ethics Committee, after he was photographed at the Globe Soccer Awards, organised by the Dubai Sports Council. Platini was banned from football for eight years by the Ethics Committee just before Christmas. “In general terms, the FIFA Ethics Committee examines all presumed violations of the Code of Ethics in the first instance”, Platini told l’Equipe.

Sheikh Salman launches manifesto

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa has launched a website outlining his manifesto in his campaign to be elected as FIFA’s new President on 26 February 2016. Sheikh Salman said he would be against re-running the vote to award the 2018 FIFA World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, unless corruption is proven. “If serious wrongful conduct is proven by a court of law, we would of course revisit the issue”, he said in a question and answer session on his site. He said that if corruption is proven, only the FIFA Executive Committee could take a decision on taking either tournament away from Russia or Qatar.

“FIFA cannot be the UN, EU or the Council of Europe, nor is it an international trade union organisation, not can it dictate social and socio-political changes to any sovereign nation state”, said Sheikh Salman when asked if he would seek to reform the kafala system in Qatar, if elected FIFA President. “That is not FIFA’s mission nor should it be. What FIFA must try and demand is that any and all persons who are directly or indirectly contributing to the infrastructure of a World Cup should be treated fairly, with respect and with dignity.”

Live debates

The dynamics of the election have attracted the attention of broadcasters. ESPN is attempting to organise a debate between all five FIFA Presidential candidates. Champagne told SportingIntelligence that he has accepted the US broadcaster’s offer to take part in a live TV debate on 29 January in London. Three of the candidates, Champagne, Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and Tokyo Sexwale have already agreed to take part in a debate at the European Parliament on 27 January, organised by NewFIFANow. Such debates are certain to be watched with interest.

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