Final meetings and lobbying ahead of FIFA congress

Five of football's six confederations were holding final meetings on the eve of Friday's extraordinary congress of the ruling body FIFA where a new president will be elected and a crucial reform package is presented for approval.

The five presidential candidates had a final day of lobbying on a snowy Thursday which lacked the glamour but also the drama of last year's events in Zurich.

Workers were only on Thursday morning installing banners at the Hallenstadion congress venue in light snowfall while nine months ago the whole area had been draped in FIFA flags well ahead of the congress.

Media attention for the extraordinary congress has been huge, with FIFA officials saying they had received double the amount of accreditation requests compared to the 2015 edition. Last year's congress was rocked by a first wave of arrests around a US investigation and the controversial re-election of Joseph Blatter, who later said he would resign and is now banned from football.

American authorities have so far treated the ruling body as a victim of corruption practices which has seen 41 people/companies indicted, but FIFA is under big pressure to reform itself to keep this status.

The new president will be the face of FIFA as his power is to be cut drastically under wide-ranging governance reform proposals.

Asian confederation chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain and UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino of Switzerland are still seen as front-runners ahead of Jordan's Prince Ali, Frenchman Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa.

The reforms need 156 of the maximum 207 votes to pass while in the presidential election a two-thirds majority of 138 is required in the first round of voting. A simple majority of 104 votes is needed from the next rounds onwards in which the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated.

Sheikh Salman appears to have the majority of votes from Africa (54 members) and Asia (44, if Kuwait and Indonesia remain suspended). Infantino can count on most of Europe's 53 votes, CONMEBOL's 10 and many from CONCACAF as well.

Just like FIFA, the CONCACAF confederation for North and central America and the Caribbean is under pressure to reform itself.

CONCACAF and South America's CONMEBOL have been hit hardest by the US indictments which centre on corrupt practices around marketing rights for major tournaments and matches in both regions.

CONCACAF has a reform congress Thursday, and UEFA, like CONCACAF without a president after the ban on Michel Platini, also has a congress but mainly on routine matters such as financial reports.

All five presidential candidates meanwhile had one hour each to make presentations to the 11 delegates from Oceania for some last-ditch lobbying. Africa's CAF and CONMEBOL also have meetings while Asian delegates are not gathering again ahead of the congress as they only recently gathered in Kuala Lumpur.

Last update: Thu, 25/02/2016 - 11:12

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