Meet the new boss, same as the old boss: how Fifa’s seven candidates rate

Seven men have stepped up promising to bring change and transparency to a new, cleaned-up Fifa. Just don’t expect too much

fifa candidates

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein
Jordan, 39. Odds 4-6 fav

Fifa’s version of a clean break, fresh-start, man of the people candidate. The Jordanian prince and long-term Fifa insider – who said in 2012 he had “definitely … absolutely no ambitions” to be president – remains the bookies’ choice, though insiders aren’t so convinced. He took Sepp Blatter to the second round in May.

Links to old regime: Anti-Blatter, but heavily embedded in Fifa’s football family. Served as an FA president since 1999 and a Fifa vice-president since 2011. When he announced his candidacy he looked to reassure Fifa colleagues: “I am one of you, and I know how hard you strive to define football.”

Fresh start rating: About as fresh as it gets, by Fifa standards. Was one of only three Fifa executives – out of 26 – to turn down a free luxury Parmigiani watch in a gift bag in 2014. “I’m new and young,” he says. 4/10

 

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa
Bahrain, 49. Odds 4-1

Even Blatter was never accused of being complicit in the torture of footballers. That’s what Sheikh Salman brings to the table – an allegation, related to Bahrain’s 2011 crackdown on pro-democracy protestors, which he vehemently denies. He says human rights groups are spreading “false, nasty lies … some people have an agenda on their table”.

Links to old regime: An FA head since 2002 and a long-time passionate Blatter man. Hailed the “Dear President” in a speech to his corruption-mired Asian Football Confederation in April.

Fresh start rating: Backs Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022, but reckons he’ll “turn Fifa round really quickly”. 0/10

 

Gianni Infantino
Switzerland, 45. Odds 6-1

Uefa’s general secretary and genial televised-draw compere stepped in to the contest as a hedging strategy when Michel Platini was suspended. As it stands, a credible candidate with Uefa’s total backing – but expect him to step out again if his boss is cleared.

Links to old regime: A lawyer and administrator now in his 15th year at Uefa. General secretary since 2009.

Fresh start rating: See above. 2/10

 

Michel Platini
France, 60. Odds 10-1

Suspended, but still ahead of three other candidates in the odds. Retains his trademark self-belief. “I am, in all humility, the most able.” Platini says Fifa’s ethics committee are trying to sabotage him, and compares himself to a knight trying to enter a castle of injustice “while having boiling oil poured on my head”.

Links to old regime: Used to be Blatter’s best friend. Not so much now.

Fresh start rating: 0/10

 

Jérôme Champagne
France, 57. Odds 16-1

Having a second run at the job, the French diplomat promises to “restore credibility” through transparent radical reform. He even produced a manifesto – unusual in Fifa world.

Links to old regime: Blatter’s 2002 election campaign manager and confidant for 11 years. Said this week: “Mr Blatter has football and Fifa at heart. History will judge what he achieved for the globalisation of football.”

Fresh start rating: Decent vision; tricky CV. 1/10

 

Musa Bility
Liberia, 48. Odds 16-1

Liberia’s FA head since 2010, Bility says it’s Africa’s – meaning his – time to lead. “Football is facing a difficult moment, but it is in difficult moments that great leaders emerge.”

Links to old regime: Opposed Blatter in 2011, backing the much-missed Mohamed bin Hammam instead. Was briefly banned by Africa’s confederation in 2013, and denied he won his 2010 FA election by paying $500 gifts to voters.

Fresh start rating: 0/10

Tokyo Sexwale
South Africa, 62. Odds 20-1

Social media’s favourite, and the bookies’ outsider. Ignore the odds: Sexwale (seh-wa-le) is a proper contender. A multi-millionaire (tick) mining tycoon (tick) and Fifa insider (tick), he has charisma and real life experience – including years of anti-apartheid activism as a former political prisoner, and being the host of South Africa’s version of The Apprentice. Less helpfully, he was also a key member of the nation’s 2010 World Cup bid team, which is now under serious scrutiny. He denies wrongdoing.

Links to old regime: See picture.

Fresh start rating: For all his promises of a “shake up”, 1/10

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