New soccer boss has a big task in store
No date has been as eagerly anticipated as February 26 2016 in the 111 years of the Federation of International Football Associations (Fifa).
This is the date on which the organisation is scheduled to start a new life under a new president.
Vying for the job vacated by Sepp Blatter after a 17-year reign are five candidates: South African businessman/politician Tokyo Sexwale; Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of Jordan; former French diplomat Jérôme Champagne; Uefa general secretary Gianni Infantino and Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim alKhalifa of Bahrain. The winner will need at least 105 votes.
The man who takes over the reins will face not only the herculean task of rebuilding Fifa’s image, but will have to unite the 209 member associations and restore them to being a tight “football family”.
The new president will also have to re-establish staff confidence in the organisation and boost morale.
For this, Fifa needs a statesman in the mould of South Africa’s first democratically elected president, the late Nelson Mandela.
One of the positives is that the incumbent will inherit a financially healthy organisation, as Fifa’s latest report for the 2011 to 2014 period, which incorporated the World Cup in Brazil, saw it reporting $5.72 billion (R88.5 billion) in revenue. They recorded a $338 million profit for the period.
Fifa has reserves of $1.52 billion, an amount that has helped it maintain its independence and remain a sustainable entity.
This is thanks to money pumped in by global sponsors and partners. Its main sponsors are Adidas, CocaCola, Gazprom, Hyundai and Kia Motors, Visa and Budweiser.
The newcomer will have to ensure these companies – who have not remained untainted by the latest scandals – not only stay with Fifa but strengthen their relationships.
The new president will also need to ensure Fifa keeps to its key and main revenue streams – the sale of television rights for the World Cup and their associated marketing rights.
These have been tainted by reports of the shenanigans that went on during negotiations and the signing of such deals. More transparency will be required in future.
Though no one owns Fifa, the president is the driving force and he will need to ensure that the 72% of its money the organisation has been investing in football development is maintained, if not increased.
Another point that will have to be debated and agreed on by the member associations will be whether Fifa remains a body governed by Swiss law. This has come under criticism from sceptics who feel that loopholes have allowed corruption and manipulation to creep in.
The incoming president will have to ensure that the reform committee’s recommendations (see box) are adopted and implemented. He will also need to add to the ever-growing calls for Michael J Garcia’s full report on alleged bribery and corruption during bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to be published. Prince Ali was the latest to add his voice to these calls last Sunday.
The election of either Sexwale, the prince or the sheikh will ensure that the organisation is steered by only its second boss in its history from outside Europe.
Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim alKhalifa of Bahrain
Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein of