(ATR) As Sepp Blatter prepares to feel the heat from an FBI investigation into a decades-long bribery scandal, senior football executives are considering entering the race to replace him.
Blatter stepped down Tuesday in a shock announcement as he became engulfed in a U.S.-led probe into a $150 million corruption scandal that led to charges for 14 football officials and corporate executives, seven of whom were arrested in Zurich last week.
FIFA’s audit and compliance chief Domenico Scala said yesterday that the new president would be elected at an extraordinary congress to be held some time between December and March 2016.
UEFA president Michel Platini is regarded as the front-runner, with Blatter’s defeated FIFA presidential challenger Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein also assessing his chances.
The 59-year-old has not yet decided whether to throw his hat into the ring. He rejected the opportunity to take on Blatter last August but may now reassess his chances. Winning support outside Europe is his main challenge.
Interviewed by CNN, Prince Ali was non-committal when asked if he would run again. He conceded defeat to Blatter in Friday’s election after a first round of voting in which he got 73 votes to 133 for the Swiss.
But today, Sala Sabra, vice president of the Jordanian football federation, told AFP: "As for new elections, Prince Ali is ready."
Should Blatter become implicated in the bribery scandal that has brought FIFA to its lowest ebb, Sabra said the 39-year-old was ready "to take up the presidency immediately if they ask him."
Other potential candidates include Korea’s former FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon and Kuwait’s Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, who accepted his seat on the FIFA ExCo on Friday.
In January 2011, Chung lost his bid for re-election to FIFA’s top table to Jordan's Prince Ali in what was considered a shock result. Chung was instrumental in bringing the World Cup to South Korea in 2002 when it co-hosted the event with Japan. Chung led the Korea Football Association from 1993 to 2009.
On Wednesday, the 63-year-old – a major shareholder in South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries - confirmed he would consult with others at FIFA before making a final decision. He also slammed Blatter for wishing to stay on as president until his successor is voted in, which could take another six to eight months.
"It’s not right for a person subject to reform to lead reform," Chung told a press conference in Seoul according to Bloomberg. "Let us try to give FIFA a rebirth by taking advantage of the current crisis."
New FIFA ExCo member Kozo Tashima also called for Blatter to quit now
As for Sheikh Ahmad, who many initially tipped for a run at the FIFA presidency in 2019 if Blatter had stayed on, his office tells Around the Rings that he has yet to decide
"No plan at this time. He needs to work for Asian football and consult his other colleagues in FIFA ExCo," the official said.
Written by Mark Bisson
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