The race to determine the next leader of football’s global governing body has been notably dominated by Africa. In the past, all the leaders of FIFA have emerged from two continents- South America and Europe– but the elections, which will be held onFebruary 26 next year, could see an African emerge as President as so far, the continent has produced the highest number of prospective candidates.
Musa Bility, head of Liberia’s Football Association announced his intention to contest, and Africa has also had another possible candidate emerge in South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale. According to feelers from South Africa, Sexwale is mulling a candidacy which could possibly enjoy significant backing from South Africa’s Football Association and the Confederation of African Football. Most recently however, Nigeria’s Segun Odegbami, a legend from the 1980 African Nations Cup winning squad, announced his intention to run for the FIFA job which has seen the number of Africa’s candidates rise to three- the most from any football confederation across the world.
In comparison, Europe’s sole contender for the job is Michel Platini, the current president of UEFA, who remains a firm favourite. In Asia, South Korea’s Chung Mong-joon one of football’s most influential figures in the Asian confederation has also announced his intentionto run for the job. Also from Asia, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein remains undecided over contesting having unsuccessfully challenged soon to be ex-President Sepp Blatter, in the last FIFA elections. In South America, Brazil legend Zico is seeking to secure unanimous support from his confederation as he seeks to become the second South American, after Joao Havelange, to lead FIFA.
Announcing his intention to contest for the spot, Nigerian legend Odegbami insists that Africa must have a bigger say in the affairs of global football. “Africa must play a big role in world football,” Odegbami said. “The current scandal at FIFA is the organisation’s worst crisis in its 111 years of existence. Moving forward, FIFA thus requires a new era of leadership that can restore the dignity of the noble sport.”
The chances of an African FIFA president will be far better if the continent presents a sole candidate to win the full backing of the entire continent as Africa- with 54 football federations- constitutes the largest voting bloc in FIFA compared to UEFA’s 53 federations and Asia’s 46 federations. CONCACAF, currently without a candidate in the race, could be a crucial hunting ground for neutral votes with its 41 federations while CONMEBOL and Oceania with 11 and 10 member federations respectively do possess strength in numbers like the remaining confederations.
Even though the continent has three contenders for the role, the support of the Confederation of African Football is not guaranteed as it has already announced that it will not back Liberia’s Musa Bility, leaving Odegabmi and possibly Sexwale as the candidates from Africa who will the CAF’s backing.
The deadline for announcing candidacies is set for October 26, and the real politicking is expected to come afterwards. While it’s possible that Africa will present a sole candidate, with the most horses in the race, Africa is clearly dominating the race to decide the next leader of FIFA.
Source: Yomi Kazeem, Ventures Africa