On January 26th FIFA confirmed five candidates: Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, Gianni Infantino, Tokyo Sexwale and Jerome Champagne. The election will be held on the 26th of February in Zurich. This election will be the first since 1998 without Sepp Blatter, who stepped down in 2015 (“Fifa Presidency”, 2016). To run for this coveted title candidates had to: prove their active role in soccer over two of the last five years, seek nominations by at least five national federations, and go through a series of ethics checks (Chaudhary, 2015).
Prince Ali bin al-Hussein
Prince Ali is known for fight against FIFA’s ban on hijabs in women’s soccer (“Fifa Presidency”, 2016). He has been a leader in international soccer for the past 16 years and the sole candidate to oppose Sepp Blatter in 2015 (“HRH Prince Ali”). During that election he only secured 73 votes despite his extensive campaigning (Chaudhary, 2015). He was first named President of the Jordan Football Association in 1999 and spent his time focused on women’s and youth’s soccer throughout the region. In 2000, Prince Ali founded the West Asian Football Federation and continued his work to expand international competitions and organizational members throughout the area. In 2011, he was elected to represent the Asian Football Confederation as their FIFA Vice President. Prince Ali was the youngest man to have held that title to date and held that title for four years (“HRH Prince Ali”).
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa
Sheikh Salman is a fan of Manchester United (“Fifa Presidency”, 2016). In 2002 he became the President of the Bahrain Football Association after serving as the association’s vice president. In 2013, Sheikh Salman was elected as the President of the Asian Football Confederation and the FIFA Executive Committee. Aside from these three titles, Sheikh Salman officiated the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2003, the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2005, the Olympic Games of 2004 and 2008, and acted as Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee during the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan (“Shaikh Salman”). During this process he has been under media scrutiny for possible human rights violations. It has been alleged that Sheikh Salman headed a committee which identified Bahraini and international athletes involved in pro-democracy demonstrations, crimes punishable by imprisonment and torture (Chaudhary, 2015).
Nationality: Italian/ Swiss
Infantino has a background in law (“Fifa Presidency”, 2016). His career in the soccer world includes acting as the general secretary of the CIES (Centre International d’Etude du Sport) in Switzerland, advising both the Swiss and the Spanish professional leagues, and acting on various committees of the Swiss and Italian leagues (“Gianni Infantino”). He has been part of the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations), Europe’s soccer governing body since 2000 (Chaudhary, 2015). As such, Infantino acted as both deputy general secretary and the director of governance and legal services, the head of commercial legal services, and the head of professional football services. In 2009, he became the general secretary of UEFA, a title he still holds today (“Gianni Infantino”).
Nationality: South African
Sexwale is known for his participation in anti-apartheid campaigns, for which he spent 13 years in jail (“Fifa Presidency”, 2016). After the 1994 election in South Africa, he first served as Premier of the Gauteng province. Sexwale also spent some time as the Minister of Human Settlements in South Africa. Aside from his politics, he founded Mvelaphanda Holdings, a mining and energy company (“Short Biography”). At this point in time Sexwale’s personal wealth is estimated at it £130 million (Chaudhary, 2015). This wealth allowed him to found the Sexwale Family Foundation and the Desmond Tutu Peace Trust. As to his relationship with soccer, Sexwale has served on FIFA’s Media Committee, its Global Task Force Against Racism (“Short Biography”) and on the organizing committee for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa (Chaudhary, 2015).
Like his collogue Prince Ali, Champagne attempted to run against Sepp Blatter in the last FIFA election but was unable to garner the support (“Fifa Presidency”, 2016). Champagne began his career in foreign affairs, spending time in French Embassies in Oman, Cuba, Los Angeles and Brazil. After meeting Blatter at the 1998 World Cup, Champagne was appointed international advisor to the president in 1999. This was his first job with FIFA and a title he would own until 2002. In 2002, Champagne was appointed Deputy Secretary General of FIFA. He would hold two more positions in the organization: Delegate to the President (2005- 2007) and Directory of International Relations (2007- 2010). In 2010, Champagne decided to leave FIFA to work as a consultant. He would work first as the football commissioner for the World Festival of Black Arts in Dakar (2010) before becoming an adviser to the PFA (Palestine Football Federation), the POC (Palestine Olympic Committee), the Football Federation of Kosovo, the CFTA (Cyprus Turkish Football Association), and the TP Mazembe of Lubumbashi (“Jérôme Champagne”). In preparation of his campaign, Champagne has sent a seven-page manifesto to the 209 FIFA member countries (Chaudhary, 2015).
Chaudhary, Vivek. “Tokyo Sexwale & Jerome Champagne among FIFA Presidential Hopefuls.” ESPNFC. N.p., 27 Oct. 2015. Web. 09 Feb. 2016. <http://www.espnfc.us/blog/fifa/243/post/2683528/rating-the-potential-fifa-presidents-post-blatter>.
“Fifa Presidency: Five Candidates Confirmed for 26 February Election.” BBC Sport. N.p., 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 09 Feb. 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/35407802>.
“Gianni Infantino.” Football Talks. N.p., 2014. Web. 09 Feb. 2016. <http://footballtalks.org/en/content/programme/speakers/gianni-infantino.html>.
“HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.” The Huffington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hrh-prince-ali-bin-al-hussein/>.
“Jérôme Champagne.” Hope for Football. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2016. <http://www.jeromechampagne2015.com/jerome-champagne.html>.
“Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa.” Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa. Asian Football Confederation, n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2016. <http://www.leadersinsport.com/_about.cfm?pid=67>.
“Short Biography: Tokyo Sexwale.” Tokyo Sexwale for President. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Feb. 2016. <http://tokyosexwale.com/biography-tokyo-sexwale/>.
On February 26, 2016 Gianni Infantino was elected as FIFA’s president. More information regarding this election can be found here.
“Fifa presidential election: Gianni Infantino succeeds Sepp Blatter.” BBC, February 26. Accessed March 5, 2016. http://www.bbc.com/sport/football/35673743.
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Thanks for the succinct post, Rachael. Gives us something else to think about amidst the US presidential election.
It would be nice to see the next FIFA chairman to some from a non-soccer-powerhouse country, perhaps candidates like Prince Ali or Sexwale. Prince Ali in particular could be a good fit for the rising popularity of soccer in women and youth. He also seems to be a more “outside FIFA” candidate. With FIFA under much scrutiny, soccer fans across the world may favor one who has minimal ties to the previous image of FIFA.
Nicely written, concise guide on the candidates for the upcoming election. Given the above information, it seems to me that Prince Ali bin al-Hussein would be an appropriate choice to steer FIFA back on a trusted direction. His willingness to go against Sepp Blatter in 2015 shows an honesty to the integrity of the organization that I think FIFA could really use right now.
It’s easy to see pros and cons with each of these candidates. After reading this post, I am most impressed by Prince Ali for his fight against the ban on hijabs in women’s soccer. Of course, I am also impressed by other candidates, such as Sexwale, for his charitable foundations and his anti-apartheid demonstrations. It will be interesting to see how this election pans out – and how FIFA will transform under new leadership.