Zurich - FIFA presidential favourites
Gianni Infantino and Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa embarked on a final
scramble for votes on Wednesday ahead of the election to lead world football's
scandal-tainted governing body.
The poll is seen as crucial to repairing
the organisation's reputation, which has been battered by a series of
unprecedented corruption scandals, but just two days before the vote, protests
over the secrecy of ballots have mounted.
Front-runners Infantino - the Swiss-Italian
acting chief of European football - and Sheikh Salman of Bahrain, Asian
football's president, have so far stayed clear of the controversy over
Both were in FIFA's home city of Zurich
trying to assemble the coalition of supporters needed to replace the disgraced
Sepp Blatter and win the most powerful job in world football.
But rival candidate Prince Ali bin al
Hussein of Jordan has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to
suspend Friday's election.
He has said transparent voting booths must
be used to ensure that delegates do not take pictures of their ballots, a move
required by certain regional confederations as proof of loyalty to a specific
candidate, according Prince Ali.
"I want this election to occur as soon
as possible, but not at the risk of undermining its integrity," the
Jordanian royal said in a letter to FIFA's member associations.
Jerome Champagne of France, who along with
South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale rounds out the list of five presidential
challengers, has joined the Jordanian prince's call for greater transparency.
The Lausanne-based CAS has asked FIFA to
respond to Prince Ali's concerns and said it will rule on his request for
"urgent provisional measures" by Thursday, although it was not clear
if the court could force a vote delay.
As closed-door campaigning continued at the
luxury Zurich hotels favoured by football power-brokers, FIFA's top brass met
for a final pre-election meeting at the body's headquarters on the outskirts of
The executive committee is expected to
finalise reform proposals to be presented for approval by the congress on
FIFA has said the reform package is crucial
to cleaning out the graft that has plagued world football for decades.
Separately, a FIFA appeals committee is
expected to rule on the pleas filed by Blatter and his one-time heir apparent
Michel Platini, who are seeking to overturn the eight-year bans.
Both were punished in December over a $2
million payment that Blatter approved for the French football legend.
An appeals decision had been expected by
Tuesday at the latest, and no reason has been given for the delay.
It was Platini's sudden and dramatic
downfall that threw the race wide-open and led Infantino, his deputy at
European confederation UEFA to enter the race.
While the hotly contested election remains
too close to call, the two-thirds majority needed to secure a first-round
victory seems unlikely for any candidate, meaning the poll could go to at least
two rounds of voting.
Only a simple majority is required to win
from the second round.
FIFA has 209 national associations, but
currently only 207 are approved to vote, following the suspensions of Kuwait
and Indonesia, although both countries could be cleared to participate on
The poll will take place nearly
eight-months to the day after Swiss police stormed the plush Baur au Lac hotel
in Zurich before dawn and arrested seven football executives indicted in United
States for corruption.
Since then, 39 people within football and
two companies have been charged by the US, Blatter and Platini have been
banned, while FIFA's former secretary general Jerome Valcke has been sacked and
thrown out of football for nine years over various corruption allegations.
Swiss prosecutors are also investigating
FIFA's management and the attribution of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia