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.