Crunch time for FIFA

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

ZURICH — A lead­ing can­di­date in to­mor­row’s elec­tion to re­place Sepp Blat­ter as Fifa’s pres­i­dent said this week is the “most sig­nif­i­cant” in the 112-year his­tory of world foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body.

Gianni In­fantino, the act­ing head of Euro­pean foot­ball, made the com­ments in a state­ment on Mon­day, five days be­fore the vote that ex­perts say could de­ter­mine whether Fifa emerges from months of un­prece­dented scan­dal to re­store its bat­tered rep­u­ta­tion.

“This com­ing week is the most sig­nif­i­cant in Fifa’s 112-year his­tory,” said In­fantino, the sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Euro­pean con­fed­er­a­tion Uefa.

“The 209 (Fifa) Mem­ber As­so­ci­a­tions have the abil­ity to de­fine not just their own des­tiny, but also that of Fifa and global foot­ball,” the Swiss-ital­ian na­tional fur­ther said.

While the race re­mains un­pre­dictable, In­fantino is widely seen as a front-run­ner af­ter win­ning the en­dorse­ments from the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tees of Uefa and the South Amer­i­can con­fed­er­a­tion (Con­mebol).

Some odds mak­ers have put Bahrainian royal Sheikh Sal­man Bin Ebrahim AlKhal­ifa as the favourite, af­ter he won the back­ing from the Asian con­fed­er­a­tion he leads and from Africa’s top foot­ball man­age­ment.

With dozens of foot­ball ex­ec­u­tives fac­ing graft al­le­ga­tions, In­fantino stressed that this week was “truly a cross­roads mo­ment for Fifa.”

“By the end of this week we will know whether Fifa has taken a full step to­wards re­form, greater trans­parency and a new era for the world’s most played and watched sport,” In­fantino said, as­sert­ing that he was the best can­di­date to lead the re­form drive. “A huge amount is at stake,” he added. For­mer Fifa deputy sec­re­tary gen­eral Jerome Cham­pagne of France, and Jor­dan’s Prince Ali bin al Hus­sein, an ex-fifa ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber are also con­test­ing, along with South African busi­ness­man Tokyo Sexwale, who is now con­sid­ered a fringe can­di­date. — AFP

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