Miami - The battle for the top job in world
football arrived in the United States on Thursday with FIFA presidential
contenders hoping to secure crucial votes from the scandal-tainted governing
body for soccer in the region.
UEFA official Gianni Infantino and Asian
chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa were both expected to be among the
FIFA presidential contenders giving presentations to members from CONCACAF,
which governs football in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Infantino, a key ally of banned former
presidential hopeful Michel Platini, and Sheikh Salman, the influential head of
the Asian Football Confederation are battling for the right to replace ousted
former FIFA chief Sepp Blatter at elections later this month.
Also in the running are Jordan's Prince Ali
bin al Hussein, South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale and outsider Jerome Champagne.
All five candidates were expected to make
presentations to CONCACAF officials at a hotel in Miami from Thursday to
It is not known whether the leadership of
CONCACAF - holding a potentially pivotal 35 votes in the FIFA ballot - will
call on its membership to endorse its preferred candidate.
An umbrella group of Central American
CONCACAF members, UNCAF, last month endorsed Infantino's bid to succeed
CONCACAF has been at the heart of the
global corruption scandal, with former president Jeffrey Webb and his successor
Alfredo Hawit both arrested last year in separate raids in Switzerland.
Infantino joined the race to replace
Blatter in a February 26 vote following the ban handed down to UEFA supremo
Infantino has vowed to clean up FIFA if
elected after months of corruption allegations which have plunged the global
football body into the worst crisis in its history.
The UEFA official has planned to introduce
12-year term limits for senior officials and increase transparency throughout
Infantino, who has also secured backing
from South American nations, has also proposed expanding the World Cup to 40
teams and establishing a "clear rotation" system for hosting the
tournament under which each continent would need to wait for at least two editions
before hosting the event again.
Sheikh Salman of Bahrain meanwhile said last month he believes the race for the presidency is a straight shoot-out
between himself and Infantino.
"I think Gianni has the support of the
(UEFA) confederation and I think Asia has its candidate. From what I hear, from
what I feel, I think it's between me and him," Infantino said.
With the FIFA vote looming ever closer, the
campaign took an acrimonious turn on Thursday with Jordan's Prince Ali lashing
out at the tactics deployed by his rivals.
Prince Ali condemned efforts by other
candidates to secure block support from regional confederations, urging FIFA's
209-strong membership to vote as individuals.
"I am not a candidate who tries to use
a couple of executive committees or confederations to push voters in a certain
way," Prince Ali told reporters in Geneva.
"That is what differentiates me from
other candidates...If other candidates do choose to work on regions and try to
divide up the world, then, yes, I think that is wrong," he added.
Speaking in Geneva, Ali laid out his plans
for his first year on the job, highlighted by his pledge to release former US
prosecutor Michael Garcia's report on alleged bribery and corruption during
bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
FIFA has not yet released the 2014 report,
citing procedural delays. Garcia resigned in protest, claiming the report was
Ali further said he would install a limit
of two, four-year terms for FIFA's president and executive committee members if
He also warned that FIFA, wracked by a web
of scandals involving most of its top leadership, was running out of time to
"The world is cleaning up FIFA whether
FIFA likes it or not," he said.