KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS —- Tokyo Sexwale has kept the door open on whether he may run for the FIFA presidency.

The South African businessman, for 13 years one of the Robben Islands ‘companions’ of Nelson Mandela, was speaking in Kitzbuhel during the Camp Beckenbauer annual conference.

Tokyo Sexwale: old prison companion of Nelson Mandela

Sexwale, who has been a consultant to the world football federation’s anti-discrimination panel for the past two years, has been suggested as a possible compromise candidate for federations who do not want to hand power to a European candidate such as UEFA president Michel Platini.

The other two ‘heavyweight’ contenders to have declared their interest are South Korea’s Chung Mong-joon and Prince Ali of Jordan, who denied Blatter a first-round knockout in the election in Zurich this past May.

Nominations date

The election for a president to succeed Sepp Blatter will be held next February 26 in Zurich and nominations must be submitted by October 26.

Sexwale recently took up a delicate role with FIFA as head of its new Palestine-Israel monitoring panel.

Pressed on whether he would stand for the top job, he said: “A lot of must be done and we must think very carefully and see where we are going. October 26 is the closing date so before that time you shall hear me.”

Earlier Sexwale described FIFA’s crisis as typical of the dangers run by all large organisations but he praised the development work undertaken under the leadership of Blatter.

He said: “The brand is seriously and severely damaged and you have seen what has happened to big organisations on the commercial side, like Lehmann Brothers. You also saw what happened to my church, the Roman Catholic church, so the Pope had to address this question of the abuse of children. So these things do happen to big organisations.

“Blatter has been a great leader. When you are in trouble everyone runs away from you and forgets your good works. He has done well for FIFA but at this stage it is the FIFA executive committee who must decide what should happen [next].”

At the weekend Blatter’s daughter, Corinne, had told a Swiss newspaper she had been afraid her father “would be led away in handcuffs” because of the avalanche of scandal.

Sexwale said: “I think all of us are in a very difficult situation and I feel for Mr blatter and his family. It is a difficult time but I’m sure he will apply his mind and act in line with what is good for FIFA but also what is good for himself and his family.”

Sponsors’ demand

He acknowledged that World Cup sponsors such as Coca-Coca, McDonald’s, Visa and Anheuser-Busch InBev had a right to express opinions as they had last Friday in demanding that Blatter step down with immediate effect – a demand he rejected.

Sexwale thought finding answers lay with the executive committee.

He said: “I can understand all these sponsors because they are more than sponsors to FIFA, they are partners and their voice is very important.

“I believe in the Mandela Way: there should be some discussions and people should apply their minds and if anything should happen it must be after a proper discussion.”

Issa Hayatou, influential president of the African confederation and FIFA’s senior vice-president, has refused to indidcate a preference for any potential candidate. However he and his CAF executive committee have rebuffed one request for support from Liberian FA president Musa Bility.

Another African hopeful is former Nigeria captain Segun Odegbami but he has so far failed to obtain even the support of his national association.

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