Lausanne - With the deadline to submit bids for the FIFA
presidency looming, reports that Asian football chief Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim
al Khalifa has entered the race takes the overall number of candidates to
succeed Sepp Blatter to six.
Monday is the final day for candidates looking to take over
the scandal-hit governing body of the world game to officially lodge their bids
to enter the election which is scheduled for February 26.
Erstwhile favourite Michel Platini, the UEFA president who
is currently suspended by FIFA, remains a contender pending an examination of
his candidacy when his ban ends on January 5.
The Frenchman, who has been a member of FIFA's Executive
Committee since 2002, was suspended for 90 days on October 8 over a $2 million
payment received from FIFA in 2011 without a written contract.
Another potential pitfall is that FIFA's electoral committee
must judge the integrity of all candidates, and it remains to be seen if their
evaluation will be influenced by Platini's suspension.
As it stands Platini looks set to have five rivals, although
more contenders could come forward before the door slams shut at midnight on
The 49-year-old Bahraini royal Shaikh Salman, the head of
the Asian Football Confederation since 2013, is the latest to come forward,
with the Bahrain News Agency saying he registered his bid on Sunday.
Also read: Jerome Champagne enters FIFA presidential election contest
Already familiar with FIFA from his role as a
vice-president, he previously supported Platini's bid.
However, his chances of receiving the backing of European federations
may not be helped by the fact he has been heavily criticised by human rights
campaigners for his role in suppressing pro-democracy demonstrations in 2011.
Another heavyweight candidate to come forward is Tokyo
Sexwale, the 62-year-old South African anti-apartheid campaigner who was once
jailed alongside Nelson Mandela, serving 13 years of an 18-year jail term on
Robben Island on terrorism charges.
His non-footballing background could serve as an asset but
also as a handicap, given that it is the presidents of FIFA's 209 member
federations who elect the president.
A member of South Africa's 2010 World Cup bid team, he
serves on FIFA's anti-racism and anti-discrimination committee, likening racism
to "a monster that is trying to infiltrate sporting fields". He is
also a FIFA media committee member.
- The outsiders -
The Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, the 39-year-old
brother of Jordan's King Abdullah, was the only adversary to Blatter at the
election in May this year and can boast that he took the veteran Swiss to a
second round of voting before withdrawing.
But on that occasion he had the backing of UEFA, something
he is unlikely to get this time following his criticism of Platini as being too
closely connected to a "flawed system".
French former diplomat Jerome Champagne, 57, spent 11 years
working for FIFA between 1999 and 2010. Unlike during his previous bid in May,
he has managed to get the five signatures from national associations needed to
enter the race.
But he appears to lack the necessary clout, a problem also
faced by David Nakhid, the former Trinidad and Tobago captain who once played
for Swiss side Grasshoppers Zurich.
Champagne, who resides in Zurich, believes his long
experience of working for FIFA does not represent a handicap to his bid, but he
will not be backed by UEFA having also criticised his compatriot Platini.
"To carry out these reforms, we need someone who knows
the organisation from the inside and that is the case with me. The 11 years
that I spent there are not a handicap, on the contrary," he declared when
announcing his bid.
It remains to be seen if any other names will come forward,
with Brazil legend Zico struggling to get the five signatures required while
UEFA may be considering a European Plan B who would withdraw should Platini
eventually be cleared.
The situation should be clearer by Tuesday, when FIFA's
electoral committee will study each bid and the integrity of the candidates,
with the exception of Platini, who must wait until the end of his ban.
One name which will be missing will be that of South Korean
businessman Chung Mong-Joon who announced on Monday that he was withdrawing
because of a six-uear ban imposed on him by FIFA'a ethics committee.For
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