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FIFA president UEFA-backed Swiss in race for top FIFA job

Infantino joined UEFA in 2000 and has been its general secretary since 2009


World football’s governing body FIFA has confirmed the candidature of Brig native and UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino for the FIFA presidential elections scheduled for February 2016. A total of seven candidates are in the fray. 

The 45-year-old Swiss lawyer received the last-minute backing of the European football’s governing body UEFA, which was probably prompted by the 90-day suspension of its president and hot favourite Michel Platini. 

Even though Platini has been proposed as a candidate to FIFA he is currently barred from taking part in any football-related activities, including the FIFA presidential race. But that does not mean the door is completely closed to the former French international. 

“Should such a ban be lifted or expire before the FIFA presidential election, the ad-hoc Electoral Committee would decide, depending on the respective exact point in time, on how to proceed with the candidature concerned,” stated FIFA. 

Besides Infantino and Platini, other contestants in the race for the FIFA presidency are Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Liberian Football Association President Musa Hassan Bility, former FIFA executive Jérôme Champagne of France, Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain and South African businessman and anti-apartheid activist Tokyo Sexwale. 

Vetting of candidates

Apart from Platini, whose candidature is in limbo for the moment, all proposed candidates will now be assessed by FIFA’s ad-hoc electoral committee to ensure they comply with the electoral regulations for the FIFA presidency. They will also be submitted to integrity checks by the investigatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee.

Once these checks have been completed the ad-hoc electoral committee “will reconvene in order to review the submissions and validate their compliance with the applicable FIFA regulatory provisions”. Only then will FIFA announce the official candidates for the FIFA presidential elections scheduled for February 26, when the current suspended president, Sepp Blatter, will be replaced.

'FIFA is not the Swiss bank'

Meanwhile in an interview with Russian state news agency TASS, suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter denounced what he termed “political attacks” against him. He accused Platini of instigating the attacks and the UK and US of retaliation for failing to win the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups that were awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively. Blatter warned that it will not be an easy task to “destroy” FIFA. 

"FIFA is not the Swiss bank. FIFA is not a commercial company. So, what they have done together with the Swiss, they have created this attack towards FIFA and the president of FIFA," he said. 

Blatter also termed his 90 day suspension by the FIFA ethics committee as “nonsense”. He claimed that the committee was against him. 

"They can be independent but they don't need to be against me," he said. and agencies

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