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Infantino leads after first round of FIFA presidential vote

26 February 2016, 21:56

Zurich — There was no clear winner in the first round of voting in the FIFA presidential election, with Gianni Infantino getting the biggest tally.

The Swiss official received 88 of the 207 votes, well short of a two-thirds majority of 138 required by election rules.

Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, long seen as the front-runner, was second with 85 votes. Prince Ali of Jordan had 27, and Jerome Champagne of France had seven.

Infantino, the UEFA general secretary, needs 16 more votes in the second round to win with a simple majority of 104. The result of the second ballot was likely to be known after two hours, at about 6 p.m. Swiss time (1700 GMT).

There were only four candidates on the ballot after Tokyo Sexwale withdrew during his campaign speech to voters, and all four went forward to the second round.

Infantino exceeded most observers' expectations after an impressive 15-minute pitch, only 20 minutes before voting began.

The 45-year-old Swiss-Italian spoke in several languages without notes and portrayed himself as a leader for the world, not just his own wealthy confederation.

Also read: Infantino defends FIFA spending plan in final vote plea

"We have to get Europe to do much more," Infantino said.

His campaign has promised more of key FIFA gifts to member federations: More guaranteed funding from FIFA's $5 billion-plus World Cup revenue, more places in an expanded 40-team tournament and more opportunities to stage the World Cup with multi-national regional hosting.

Sheikh Salman was expected lead the first round with backing from Africa and the Asian soccer confederation he has led since 2013.

The eventual winner will get to serve the rest of outgoing president Sepp Blatter's term in office, which runs through May 2019.

Sexwale, a South African businessman and former anti-apartheid activist, withdrew at the end of a lively, funny and unscripted speech to the 207 eligible voters.

"My campaign is suspended as of now," said Sexwale, who pledged himself ready to serve the winner and received a standing ovation from many delegates.

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- AP


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