Remember last summer when Sepp Blatter said he would resign, then said he wouldn’t, then was suspended by FIFA following a Swiss investigation, then banned from FIFA for eight years? Remember all that? Well FIFA is finally getting around to naming his replacement this week; they’ll elect their new president this Friday.
Hooray! Soccer is saved!
Just kidding. As much fun as it has been watching Blatter – the worst man in all of sports (unless you ask him) – squirm for the last few months, the sad news is, he isn’t the root of all the organization’s problems. If I throw out the oldest, most curdled Greek yogurt in my fridge, that still leaves me with a lot of spoiled dairy products and a clear inability to shop for myself.
But as fans of soccer, we have to hope that whoever is elected to this position – which apparently comes with a license to print money – will begin to curtail the ridiculous amount of corruption in FIFA.
Who’s going to have the monumental task?
Two main candidates have emerged from the five in the running. Gianni Infantino is the current UEFA secretary and, as such, has the support of the European nations. Working against him is the fact that he was Michel Platini’s right-hand man. (Platini also received an eight-year ban from FIFA for being human garbage.) Infantino is also from Switzerland, growing up mere miles from Blatter. His election platform includes increasing the World Cup to 40 teams. Yep, this guy is really gonna bring on sweeping changes!
Then there is Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, a Bahrain national and head of the Asian Football Confederation. His platform includes making the FIFA president a non-executive role and he appears to have the support of Africa and Asia. Of course, he also has been dogged by allegations of human rights violations as recently as 2011. Swell guy, I’m sure…
The other candidate that seems crucial is Prince Ali bin al-Hussein. The former vice-president doesn’t appear to have enough support to win, but he could play king-maker. The current thinking is that his endorsement will be enough to put either Infantino of al-Khalifa over the top.
The final two guys seem inconsequential in this election, but Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale would definitely be the front-runners in a funny-name election.
Here are our odds for the FIFA election. Football gods have mercy on us.
Odds to win the FIFA Presidential Election:
- Gianni Infantino: 7/9
- Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa: 3/2
- Prince Ali bin al-Hussein: 12/1
- Tokyo Sexwale: 50/1
- Jerome Champagne: 80/1
(Photo credit: Marcello Casal Jr./ABr (ABr) [CC BY 3.0 br (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/br/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons.)