Michel Platini, Issa Hayatou, Chung Moog-joon, Tokyo Sexwale, Zico and Maradona are the men who could succeed Blatter to become Fifa's only ninth president in its 111-year old history
Come 26 February, world football’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) will have a new president, and it won’t be Sepp Blatter.
Blatter, who won another four-year term as Fifa president in May this year, announced his resignation four days later, amid increasing public criticism over his role in the corruption scandal that engulfed Fifa. He would, however, serve as president till the Fifa executive committee called for an “extraordinary Congress". On Monday, Fifa confirmed the date for such a Congress as 26 February.
In May, just ahead of the 65th Fifa Congress in Zurich, seven FIFA officials from two confederations the CONCACAF and the CONEMBOL were arrested for their involvement in alleged acts of corruption. The arrests were based on a federal investigation by the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).
Two days after the arrests rocked Fifa, Blatter, unaffected by the events around him, was voted Fifa president, with a large part of his mandate coming from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Asian Football Confederations (AFC) federations.
Blatter’s resignation has been welcomed by many, including those who now see an opportunity for themselves to head what is considered to be the world’s most powerful sporting body.
Here are the men who could succeed Blatter to become Fifa’s only ninth president in its 111-year old history:
Michel Platini (French)
The former French midfielder, who now heads UEFA, is considered the hot favourite to become the next Fifa chief. According to reports, Platini currently has the backing of four confederations, including his own. According to reports, the AFC, Conembol and the Concacaf have pledged their support for Platini’s candidacy, should it happen. Platini, however, has not formally announced his intention to run for the post. During the recent elections, Platini was severely critical of Blatter’s intention to run for another term, requesting him to step down on multiple occasions. Platini and the UEFA backed Blatter’s rival Prince Ali of Jordan, who conceded defeat after the first round of counting.
Issa Hayatou (Cameroon)
A former national basketball player, Hayatou has been involved with football since 1974, when he first took over as the general secretary of the Cameroon Football Association (CFA). In 1988, Hayatou was elected president of CAF, a post he has held since. Two years later, he entered the Fifa ExCo as a member, and by 1992, Hayatou was already a vice-president in football’s governing body. Backed by the UEFA in 2002, Hayatou unsuccessfully ran against Blatter for the Fifa presidency, when he was overwhelmingly defeated 139-56. In the 2015 elections, Hayatou and CAF supported Blatter. CAF and its federations have been key beneficiaries of Blatter’s pet “Goal Project", where Fifa funds its members to undertake development activities.
Immediately after Blatter announced his resignation in June, legendary Brazilian footballer Zico declared his intention to run for the Fifa presidency. While announcing his candidature, Zico said, “It’s sad for our sport to see what is happening in football today - the corruption... and the hard work of many other good people wasted - and I see it as my duty to use my experience and knowledge to try and stand for the presidency." During his illustrious playing career, Zico was a well-travelled footballer, plying his trade in native Brazil, Italy and Japan. Zico began his managerial career in Japan with Kashima Antlers in 1999. He has also managed the national teams of Japan (2002-2006) and Iraq (2011-2012). His most recent assignment was in the Indian Super League (ISL), where he coached the FC Goa franchise in the 2015 season. While Zico’s legend and appeal is never in doubt, what could cost him is his lack of administrative experience, something his rivals have in plenty.
Chung-Mong-joon (South Korea)
A man of multiple interests, Joon is currently the honorary vice-president of Fifa. The son of Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung, Joon is also a controlling shareholder in the company, according to a BBC report. Joon is a former president of the Korea Football Association (KFA).
Tokyo Sexwale (South Africa)
An anti-apartheid campaigner, Sexwale was a former minister in South African president in Jacob Zuma’s cabinet, where he held the Human Settlements portfolio. Besides his career as a politician, Sexwale is also a successful businessman, with interests in diamond. He was a member of the 2010 Fifa World Cup organising committee. Sexwale, with his background, political influence, wealth, is considered a future South African president.
Diego Maradona (Argentina)
Backed by Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro, the Argentine great declared his presidential bid to an Uruguayan journalist, who broke the news on Twitter. Maradona’s links with the Venezuelan leadership is well known, given his support to the revolution led by late Hugo Chavez. Even before speculation began, Maradona, in a column blasted Fifa and Blatter. He called Blatter “a dictator for life" and labelled Fifa, “a disgrace." He added, “Under Sepp Blatter, FIFA has become a disgrace and a painful embarrassment to those of us who care about football deeply."
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