KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —– December 16 has emerged as the most likely date for the extraordinary congress which must choose a successor to Sepp Blatter as president of the world football federation.

An extraordinary meeting of the executive committee will take place in July – possibly in St Petersburg on the eve of the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw – to review the options.

However FIFA and Blatter, who has said he will remain in office until the conclusion of the election, have come under increasing pressure not to prolong the process.

Sepp Blatter in Zurich last month . . .a re-election too far

German federation head Wolfgang Niersbach and veteran ex-UEFA president Lennart Johansson have both demanded Blatter’s immediate departure in the wake of the multiple scandals assailing the governing clique world football.

A FIFA spokesperson said: “It requires an extraordinary executive committee to confirm a date and agenda for the extraordinary elective Congress.

Date options

“This extraordinary executive committee will convene in July, the precise date to be confirmed this week. There are currently various date options for discussion at this extraordinary executive committee meeting.”

Secretary-general Jerome Valcke, who is also likely to leave FIFA after the election, also said in Russia today that the bidding process for the 2026 World Cup had been postponed.

Before last month’s corruption chaos, it had been intended to start immediately on planning the operation of a revised bidding process which will conclude with a host decision being taken by congress and not by the executive committee.

However, with the presidency effectively vacant and allegations swirling of corruption concerning previous bid campaigns, Valcke said it had been deemed “a nonsense” to proceed in the current climate.

The vote had been set for the Kuala Lumpur Congress in May 2017. Bidding is to be opened provisionally to countries from all continents except Asia, staging the preceding finals in Qatar in 2022.

Valcke. in Samara during a visit to assess Russian preparations for 2018, expressed exasperation at being pressed personally on his role in FIFA’s handling of a $10m payment from the South African government in 2018 towards a Caribbean diaspora legacy programme.

Financial channel

The United States Justice Department has claimed the payment was a bribe to help secure the 2010 World Cup for South Africa. The money was channelled, at South Africa’s request, to the Caribbean Football Union and CONCACAF which were then controlled by central/north American president Jack Warner.

The money was later laundered, according to the US Justice Department, into Warner’s personal accounts. Warner, who is on bail in Port of Spain while contesting a US extradition warrant, has denied wrongdoing.

Valcke insisted: “This was not FIFA’s money. It was a request from official South African authorities and the South African Football Association. As long as it is in line with rules we do it. I don’t understand what’s the problem and why I am such a target in this question.”

When faced with questions over his own future, Valcke said: “You – the media – have decided that, after Blatter, I am the head to be cut, fine, but don’t say it is because of this $10m.”