ZURICH • Fifa's executive committee (exco) yesterday confirmed that its presidential election would go ahead as planned on Feb 26 and promised that it would do more to open up internal investigations into complaints and scandals.
The announcement was a huge blow to Uefa president Michel Platini. A delay mooted by some officials would have given him more time to appeal against a ban from the game and then stand to succeed outgoing leader Sepp Blatter, 79, who has been in charge since 1998.
Both Blatter and Platini were suspended by Fifa's ethics committee for 90 days this month, engulfed by a deepening corruption scandal as their sport faces criminal investigations in Switzerland and the United States.
Potential candidates for the most powerful job in football have until next Monday to register their interest in running.
Prince Ali Al Hussein, who lost to Blatter in May's election, and former Trinidad and Tobago captain David Nakhid have officially stated their intention to run, as has Platini. But the exco confirmed that the Frenchman's bid will not be considered as long as he is suspended.
Chairman of the Fifa electoral committee, Domenico Scala, explained that "presidential candidacies submitted in due time and form, but which relate to candidates who are subject to a (provisional or definite) ban from taking part in any football-related activity, will not be processed... as long as such ban is valid and in force."
Both former Tottenham and Switzerland defenders Ramon Vega and Shaikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa, president of the Asian Football Confederation, are also considering running for the presidency.
Platini was considered the favourite to replace Blatter until his suspension. His chances nosedived as neither he nor Blatter can explain an irregular payment of two million Swiss francs (S$2.9 million) in 2011 for advisory work the Frenchman did for Fifa from 1998 to 2002.
The exco also welcomed preliminary reform proposals to set an age restriction of 74 years and a 12-year maximum tenure for the presidency.
In addition, they agreed to change an article in Fifa's Code of Ethics which currently allows only the final decisions of cases to be made public.
The decision followed a request from the ethics committee, which currently cannot name individuals who are under investigation even when their cases have been widely reported in the media.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE