Pos­si­ble suc­ces­sors

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Bax­ter kevin.bax­ter@la­times.com

Can­di­dates for next chief in­clude a chal­lenger fa­vored by re­form­ers and two for­mer soc­cer play­ers.

In last Fri­day’s vote for FIFA pres­i­dent, Sepp Blat­ter faced only one chal­lenger: Jor­dan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hus­sein. But af­ter Blat­ter an­nounced Tues­day his plans to re­sign, sev­eral names have sur­faced as pos­si­ble can­di­dates in the spe­cial elec­tion to choose his suc­ces­sor. Some of the fa­vorites:

Prince Ali bin al-Hus­sein (Jor­dan): A FIFA vice pres­i­dent, AlHus­sein’s can­di­dacy won the sup­port of re­form­ers, in­clud­ing U.S. Soc­cer Pres­i­dent Su­nil Gu­lati. Only 39, Al-Hus­sein as pres­i­dent would bring world soc­cer’s lead­er­ship closer to its fan base, which skews younger than many other sports. The last five FIFA presi- dents were all at least 58 when they took of­fice and the or­ga­ni­za­tion hasn’t had a leader as young as AlHus­sein since 1906.

Michel Pla­tini (France): A three-time FIFA player of the year, Pla­tini, who turns 60 this week, has spent the last nine years lead­ing UEFA, the gov­ern­ing body for Euro­pean soc­cer. But a Pla­tini can­di­dacy might not unite FIFA. Once a Blat­ter sup­porter, in re­cent years Pla­tini has turned on his for­mer ally. That could cost him the votes of smaller fed­er­a­tions that have formed the base of the for­mer pres­i­dent’s sup­port while caus­ing Blat­ter crit­ics to won­der about Pla­tini’s re­cent change of heart.

Luis Figo (Por­tu­gal): A for­mer stand­out player, Figo an­nounced in Jan­uary his can­di­dacy for FIFA pres­i­dent be­fore with­draw­ing it last month, call­ing the process “a plebiscite for the de­liv­ery of ab­so­lute power to one man.” Now that Blat­ter has re­signed, the 42-yearold Figo might re­con­sider his stand.

Issa Hay­a­tou (Cameroon): The 68-year-old Hay­a­tou, a for­mer track star, would be the most con­tro­ver­sial can­di­date should he de­cide to run. As pres­i­dent of the African soc­cer con­fed­er­a­tion since 1988 and a staunch ally of Blat­ter, he won praise when FIFA, and Blat­ter, brought the World Cup to the con­ti­nent for the first time in 2010. But Hay­a­tou also ran against Blat­ter for pres­i­dent in 2002, win­ning wide back­ing in Europe. Few other po­ten­tial can­di­dates can claim past sup­port from Europe and the de­vel­op­ing world. But Hay­a­tou was rep­ri­manded by the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee for his part in an al­leged bribery scan­dal in 2011, as well as a $100-mil­lion kick­back scheme be­tween 1989 and 1999. Hay­a­tou de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

Michael van Praag (the Nether­lands): A long­time sports ad­min­is­tra­tor and chair­man of the Royal Dutch soc­cer as­so­ci­a­tion, Van Praag mounted a Quixotic cam­paign to un­seat Blat­ter this year. But his re­formist can­di­dacy re­ceived lit­tle no­tice and Van Praag with­drew be­fore the vote. Af­ter wel­com­ing Tues­day’s news, the 67year-old said he was un­de­cided about run­ning again.





Van Praag

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