Skip to main content

FIFA election: The candidates

Gianni Infantino and Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa are the favourites to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president at the extraordinary congress on Friday. Here, we examine the five candidates.


The Favourites 

Gianni Infantino 

The UEFA secretary general was put forward by Europe's governing body as an alternative to the banned Michel Platini, the 45-year-old receiving the unanimous backing of UEFA's Executive Committee.

Infantino, who has worked at UEFA since 2000, confirmed his bid to replace Blatter on the submission deadline day.

Infantino crucially appears to have the support of football's traditional European and South American heavyweights, but may need to secure votes from elsewhere, particularly the undeclared elements of CONCACAF, if he is to win.

Supporters: UEFA, CONMEBOL, Suriname, South Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Central American Football Union.


Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa

The president of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman has promised to self-fund his election bid entirely and says he will not take a salary should he be appointed FIFA president.

The 50-year-old, who is cousin to the King of Bahrain, has been accused by human rights groups of helping to identify athletes involved in pro-democracy protests in 2011, after which some national team players were arrested and allegedly tortured.

Sheikh Salman, however, has branded the accusations "false, nasty lies". Fellow candidate Prince Ali bin al-Hussein was a former supporter of Sheikh Salman prior to the latter's election as AFC president.

Supporters: AFC, CAF. Reported to enjoy some support within UEFA.


The Outsiders

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein

Prince Ali has been FIFA vice-president for Asia since 2011 and ran against Blatter during the previous election in May 2015.

Having taken the ballot to a second round of voting, Prince Ali then withdrew his candidacy, which handed victory to Blatter – although four days later the Swiss announced his intention to resign as FIFA plunged further into crisis in the wake of dramatic anti-corruption arrests.

Prince Ali is the president of the Jordan Football Association, and has vowed to lead reform within FIFA and restore the governing body's reputation. He has provided transparent voting booths for the election and gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in attempt to enforce their use.

Supporters: Liberia, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Malta. Expected to have other AFC supporters voting against the wider confederation.


Jerome Champagne

A former advisor to Blatter, Champagne planned to run in the 2015 elections but failed to achieve the backing of the minimum five associations and was forced to withdraw.

During his 11 years with FIFA, Champagne also held the role of director of international relations, before leaving the governing body in 2010.

Champagne, while notably opting not to condemn former president Blatter, has pledged to introduce "the highest standard of transparency and ethics" if elected.

Supporters: Claims to have the backing of at least eight unnamed national federations/associations. Has received public endorsements from high-profile current and former players, including Pele.


Tokyo Sexwale

Full name Mosima Gabriel Sexwale, the 62-year-old is a former anti-apartheid activist who spent 13 years in prison on Robben Island alongside - among others - former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Sexwale was key to South Africa winning the right to host the World Cup in 2010 but went public with his concerns over an alleged payment of $10million, which US prosecutors have claimed was used to win votes. Sexwale has never faced any accusations of wrongdoing relating to the bid.

A millionaire mining tycoon, Tokyo - so called due to a love of karate as a youth - is a leading anti-racism campaigner and even became a media personality as the central figure on South Africa's version of reality TV series The Apprentice.

Supporters: Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe. Not being the preferred candidate of his own confederation appears to make Sexwale's bid a non-starter. 



Michel Platini 

The banned UEFA president has been suspended from football activities for eight years over a "disloyal payment" received from FIFA during Blatter's tenure. He has denied any wrongdoing and an appeal process is underway.

Musa Bility

The Liberian Football Association president failed an integrity check for this election over a six-month ban imposed by CAF in 2013.