The five Fifa presidential hopefuls

Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa
Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa
Gianni Infantino
Gianni Infantino
Prince Ali Al-Hussein
Prince Ali Al-Hussein
Tokyo Sexwale
Tokyo Sexwale
Jerome Champagne
Jerome Champagne

FAVOURITE

Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa, 50 (Bahrain)

Who is he: A Bahraini royal who is president of the Asian Football Confederation and a Fifa vice-president.

Previous position: Former head of Bahrain Football Association.

Believes he has the support of: Africa and Asia. Africa has 54 votes - the most of any confederation - and the African confederation's executive committee has announced it is backing him. The Asian Football Confederation, with 44 votes, has endorsed him too.

Key points of his manifesto:

• He has advocated splitting Fifa into two at the governing level, with a financial/commercial department to handle the business side of the organisation and a football department to oversee football development and the organisation of all Fifa competitions.

• If elected, he says he will take a non-executive stance as president, and have a more ambassadorial role, not wanting to "micro-manage" the body, in line with the proposed reforms.

• He will keep Fifa's name and the organisation would remain in Zurich.

  • About the voting process

  • • A record five candidates are competing today.

    • They will each have 15 minutes to address the congress, which is due to start at about 8pm (Singapore time).

    • Prince Ali Al-Hussein has lost his attempt to have transparent voting booths used.

    • The candidates are fighting for the votes of 207 of Fifa’s 209 member associations, with Kuwait and Indonesia currently suspended.

    • Each association may vote for a single candidate, with a two-thirds majority – or 138 votes – required to be elected in the first round.

    • A simple majority is required for victory in subsequent rounds.

    • The first round of voting is estimated to start at about 9.30pm.

    • The winner is expected to be announced no earlier than 1.30am tomorrow.
     

THE CONTENDER

Gianni Infantino, 45 (Switzerland)

Who is he: He has been the general secretary of Uefa since 2009.

Previous position: Joined Europe's governing body in 2000 as a lawyer. Prior to that, he was the secretary-general of the International Centre for Sports Studies at the University of Neuchatel.

Believes he has the support of: The majority of his own federation, which boasts 53 voting members, and expects to get more than half the votes in Africa, even though the Confederation of African Football has backed Salman. South America's Conmebol, which has 10 votes, has publicly backed him, while most of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (35) - particularly within the Caribbean - is expected to endorse him. Infantino claimed earlier this week that he can get more than the 105 votes he needs to win.

Key points of his manifesto:

• The most controversial proposal is to increase the 32-team World Cup to 40 teams. Infantino said he would also encourage the idea of co-hosting World Cup tournaments between two or more countries in the same region.

• He wants to distribute US$5 million (S$7 million) every four years to each of Fifa's 209 member associations for football development and a further US$40 million to each of the continental confederations.

REPEAT CANDIDATE

Prince Ali Al-Hussein, 40 (Jordan)

Who is he: A member of the Jordanian royal family, he is the president of Jordan's Football Association. He lost to Sepp Blatter in last May's presidential election after winning 73 votes to the Swiss' 133 on the first ballot.

Previous position: Former Fifa vice-president.

Believes he has the support of: The Jordan FA and around 20-30 other football associations. Much of Europe backed him in the last election, and while the dynamics have changed, some of the FAs are keen to give their votes to him again. He could benefit from some European resistance to Infantino's plan to expand the World Cup to 40 teams.

Key points of his manifesto:

• Supports an expanded World Cup but has not specified how many extra slots he would like to see in the Finals. Guarantees that no confederation would lose any slots they now have.

• Would increase the grants Fifa gives to member associations from US$250,000 to US$1 million every year.

• Wants to "turn the pyramid upside down" by giving more power to "the national associations, players, coaches, officials, fans and sponsors".

OUTSIDER

Tokyo Sexwale, 62 (South Africa)

Who is he: A mining tycoon who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela.

Previous position: A former government minister and member of Fifa's anti-discrimination task force.

Believes he has the support of: Some African voters. Earlier this week, he called himself a "realist" about his chances and said he was "open to negotiations and alliances".

Key points of his manifesto:

• Seeks more places at future World Cups for Africa and seeks to allow national FAs to make more revenue by allowing sponsorship on national team jerseys.

• "After 112 years of its existence, Fifa needs to take a hard look, with sensitivity, at these imbalances - not in opposition to any grouping but in favour of football," he says.

• He also promises a personal touch if elected. "Every FA's president will have direct tele-contact with myself."

LONG SHOT

Jerome Champagne, 57 (France)

Who is he: A consultant in international football.

Previous position: A former diplomat, he worked for Fifa for 11 years as an executive and an adviser to Blatter, before leaving in 2010.

Believes he has the support of: Football legends like Pele, Marco van Basten, and George Weah, none of whom have a vote today.

Key points of his manifesto:

• He is against any expansion of the World Cup to 40 teams.

• He would re-organise Fifa's current grants system which sees the richest FAs getting the same grants as the poorest. Most of the money, he says, would go to the poorest members.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'The five Fifa presidential hopefuls'. Print Edition | Subscribe