ZURICH: On October 26 in 1881 the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral took place in Tombstone, Arizona. On the anniversary of that date, precisely 134 years later, the gunslingers of world football stepped out for their own showdown.
Eight contenders for the presidency of world football federation FIFA have submitted their nomination papers with the last to buckle on his gunbelt being the UEFA general secretary, Gianni Infantino.
The FIFA ethics committee can take up to 10 days to confirm the candidacies.
Qualification demands include a minimum of five written endorsements from national football federations plus a declaration of a role in the game in two of the past five years.
All contenders must also have their submissions put through an ethics committee integrity check before being confirmed, formally, to go forward as potential successors to Sepp Blatter at the scheduled extraordinary congress next February 26.
After more contenders declared themselves over the past 72 hours the ‘live’ hopefuls were as follows:
Prince Ali bin Al Hussein of Jordan (former FIFA vice-president);
Musa Bility (president of the Liberian federation);
Jerome Champagne (French ex-FIFA official;
Gianni Infantino (Swiss general secretary of UEFA);
David Nakhid (one time Trinidad international);
Michel Platini (suspended president of European federation UEFA);
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa (Bahrain; Asian confederation president)
Tokyo Sexwale (South African businessman and head of FIFA’s Palestine-Israel Monitoring Commission).
Intial uncertainty had shrouded the expected candidacy from Asian confederation leader Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa before the AFC finally confirmed his intention to stand.
He is the most controversial applicant after having flown to Cairo for discussions with Issa Hayatou, the Cameroonian president of the African confederation who took over as interim leader of FIFA earlier this month after Blatter’s suspension over allegations of financial misconduct.
The shadow hanging over Sheikh Salman’s prospective power bid concerned allegations by human rights activitists of complicity in the detention and torture of footballers and other athletes in a Bahrain crackdown in 2011. Sheikh Salman has always denied the claims.
As for European federation UEFA, Frenchman Platini submitted his paperwork before being suspended by the FIFA ethics committee pending an investigation into his receipt in 2011 of a ‘disloyal payment’ from FIFA authorised by Blatter.
The executive committee held a conference call which agreed to ‘run’ Infantino so it would have a negotiating presence in the race – to protect Europe’s exco delegates and World Cup slots – in case Platini is not cleared by the ethics committee in time for the election congress.
Infantino’s involvement raises other issues since, whoever takes over from Blatter, might well consider him a possible candidate for the role of secretary-general.
Current secretary-general Jerome Valcke is under suspension over misconduct allegations of his own and, in any case, had indicated that he expected to be leaving FIFA after the election.
Chung Mong-joon, the South Korean billionaire, has formally withdrawn from the race after being banned from the game for six years over allegations connected to an investigation into the 2018-2022 World Cup bid process.
Interest in standing has also been expressed by former players Zico (Brazil), Ramon Vega (Switzerland) and David Ginola (France) but all failed to come up with the essential nominations.
Zico, on seeking the support of his own Brazilian confederation, was told it would back him only if he could first find four other countries willing to nominate him. That proved beyond him.