(ATR) Unless something dramatic happens, Sepp Blatter will on Friday emerge victorious from his latest FIFA presidential battle.
Despite the challenge from Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, the 79-year-old from Switzerland is widely expected to secure the majority of votes of the 209 member federations in the secret ballot.
Despite struggling to brush aside a wave of corruption scandals since the botched World Cup bidding race in December 2010, it would be a major surprise if Blatter did not garner more than 140 votes.
After 17 years as FIFA chief, his stranglehold of support in world football’s six regional confederations is clear. With Africa, Asia and Oceania firmly behind him, considerable support for a fifth term at the helm of world football will also come from CONMEBOL and CONCACAF, where he has traditionally enjoyed strong support.
His opponent Prince Ali, the outgoing FIFA vice president, is going for broke to unseat Blatter but lacks the solid base of support built up over many years that has served Blatter well in recent elections.
Backed by former FIFA presidential candidates Michael van Praag and Luis Figo, who quit the race last week, the 39-year-old reforming presence on the FIFA ExCo can hope for good support from Europe – he is backed by UEFA president Michel Platini after all – as well as CONCACAF and CONMEBOL.
Prince Ali will get 15 minutes to present his vision for FIFA to the delegates gathered at Zurich’s Hallenstadion on May 29. Blatter, who didn’t publish a manifesto saying that people should judge him on his 17-year track record as FIFA boss, will then make his appeal to federations before football officials vote.
The election is listed as item 17 on the FIFA Congress agenda.
Other key areas for discussion and debate include the proposal by the Palestinian Football Association for the suspension of the Israeli FA. The PFA claims the Israeli FA routinely discriminates against Palestinian players and restricts club locations and players' freedom of movement.
Reports on the preparations for the Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022 World Cups are also expected along with an update on FIFA’s plan to ban third-party ownership.
The mandates of the co-opted female members of the Executive Committee will also be extended.
Next year’s congress takes place in Mexico City in May.
On Monday and Tuesday, FIFA’s executive committee also has a full plate.
The outcry over Qatar’s lack of progress in addressing allegations of human rights abuses – in particular the living and working conditions of migrant workers – may stoke some discussion following a report to the ExCo by FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke.
FIFA's ruling body is also set to approve the 2026 World Cup bidding regulations. In the wake of the farcical parallel bidding contest for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, won by Russia and Qatar, FIFA may move to tighten the rules.
A rotational policy may be introduced, preventing European bid for the 2026 competition so soon after Russia 2018, which would put the USA in pole position to secure hosting rights when the vote takes place in May 2017.
An update on preparations for this summer’s Women’s World Cup in Canada is also on the agenda. Following the FIFA decision to move the Qatar World Cup to from the sizzling heat of a Gulf summer to November-December 2022, ExCo members will further discuss the impact on the 2018 to 2022 international match calendar.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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