The Next FIFA President Will Be Chosen Carefully & These 2 Candidates Stand Out
The most powerful man in soccer announced he will step down, following backlash after a string of arrests of top FIFA officials for charges such as money laundering and bribery revealed roughly 24 years of corruption in soccer's international governing body. But who will replace Sepp Blatter as the next president of FIFA? Although Blatter did not admit to any wrongdoing, he did say that FIFA needed "deep-rooted structural change."
Blatter announced his resignation during a Tuesday press conference, which came just hours before The New York Times reported that Blatter is the focus of a federal corruption investigation. Blatter urged FIFA's executive committee to hold an "extraordinary congress," at which point a replacement president could be elected, and the 79-year-old, who has been a part of FIFA's history since 1975, could step down from his office.
Blatter said in his speech that he will appoint Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee elected by the FIFA Congress, to help oversee the election of his successor. Scala said during the press conference that it would take a minimum of four months to call an extraordinary congress of FIFA together to elect a new president, but added that FIFA needed time to vet the new candidates. Scala said the election is likely to take place somewhere between December 2015 and March 2016.
Meanwhile, all bets are on for who will become the next most powerful person in international soccer. According to The Independent, UEFA president Michel Platini is a potential strong contender to head FIFA, and former Newcastle and Spurs player David Ginola told London radio station LBC on Tuesday that he will run in the election to be FIFA's next president. Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, who ran and lost against Blatter at the FIFA election last Friday, demurred when asked by CNN's Christiane Amanpour if he was planning on running to replace Blatter as FIFA president. He told Amanpour, "Look, I have to talk to our national associations and see how they feel about it."
William Hill, a U.K. betting site, put out the odds for the next FIFA president, and Platini and Prince Ali emerge as the clear favorites.
Prince Ali told CNN that if he would run if encouraged. The prince conceded in the race against Blatter last week after the incumbent secured 133 votes against Ali's 73 votes, according to Reuters.
A pivotal factor in Ali's election is whether Asian countries decide to back him. Despite the fact that Ali is the head of the West Asian Football Federation, Asian soccer officials were "stunned" at Ali's decision to run against Blatter in the May 29 election, according to AFP. Citing a previous commitment to Blatter, Asian Football Confederation chief Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said that the Asian countries were not planning on voting for Ali, whose decision to run had taken them by surprise.
"I was surprised to see it in the press," Shaikh Salman told the AFP. "If there is a candidate from Asia, Asia has to push for it. It's not the way around that somebody can nominate themselves without consulting the Asian confederation. At the end of the day, you will need the backing of the confederation."
According to The Guardian, the FIFA president is elected by the FIFA Congress, which is composed of 209 associations. Voting for the FIFA president takes place by secret ballot. If either candidate achieves two-thirds of the vote in the first round, or 139 out of 209, they win outright. If not, voting goes to a second round.
Jack Warner, the recently arrested head of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or CONCACAF, was key in getting most of the CONCACAF countries to vote for Blatter in last month's election, according to The Guardian. But the U.S. and Canada voted for Prince Ali. Given that the region is responsible for 35 votes in total, the decision the Caribbean makes this time around could be a game-changer.
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