KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Tokyo Sexwale has been confirmed as the latest contender for the FIFA presidency after his home South African Football Association endorsed him for the top job in world football.
With Michel Platini’s credibility shattered and Sheikh Salman a target for human rights pressure groups Sexwale has emerged as a serious compromise candidate for various of the six regional confederations.
SAFA announnced that it had unanimously offered its endorsement to Sexwale, a South African businessman and former anti-apartheid activist who spent 13 years in jail alongside Nelson Mandela during the apartheid era.
Local media reported associate and fellow businessman Peter Paul Ngwenya as saying: “He is South Africa’s candidate and we hope he will be all of Africa’s candidate.”
All of this would help him pass the candidacy test, assuming he can also find five national associations to support him – which should not be difficult with even the German federation now indicating possible approval.
The election for a president to succeed Sepp Blatter will be held next February 26 in Zurich and nominations must be submitted by Monday.
Sexwale has described FIFA’s crisis as typical of the dangers run by all large organisations while having also praised the development work undertaken under the leadership of Blatter.
Never having been a member of the FIFA executive committee, Sexwale is the nearest possibility to satisfy calls from pressure groups and critics for an independent outsider to come in and turn FIFA around.
However Issa Hayatou, leader of the African confederation and FIFA’s interim president while Blatter is under an ethics committee suspension, has refused to indicate a preference for any potential candidate.
Blatter and Platini, the French president of European federation UEFA and original favourite, are both provisionally excluded from all football pending an investigation into allegations of financial misconduct.
One other Frenchman in contention is former FIFA official Jerome Champagne who submitted his paperwork in Friday, followimg the earlier examples of ex-Trinidad international David Nakhid and former FIFA vice-president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, president of the Asian confederation, has been considered joining the race though major reservations would be raised about allegations – which he denies – concerning his role in a human rights crackdown in Bahrain four years ago.