Golden 25 - #1 - The New FIFA President

(ATR) FIFA searches for a savior who can repair the scandal decimating the federation.

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 20:  The shadow of FIFA president, Sepp Blatter is seen behind the FIFA World Cup Trophy as he delivers a speech after the FIFA Executive Committee Meeting on October 20, 2011 in Zurich, Switzerland. During this third meeting of the year, held on two days, the FIFA Executive Committee will approve the match schedules for the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 20: The shadow of FIFA president, Sepp Blatter is seen behind the FIFA World Cup Trophy as he delivers a speech after the FIFA Executive Committee Meeting on October 20, 2011 in Zurich, Switzerland. During this third meeting of the year, held on two days, the FIFA Executive Committee will approve the match schedules for the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)

(ATR) As Sepp Blatter exits in disgrace amid the biggest crisis in FIFA’s history, his successor has a massive job to restructure and implement reforms.

Not only is the future of FIFA at stake. Sports leaders throughout the Olympic family believe the image of all is being dragged down by the scandal.

The new FIFA president is number-one in the Around the Rings Golden 25 for 2016. Now in its 20th year, the survey ranks 25 individuals or events expected to have a major influence on the Olympics in the year ahead.

After a year of scandal that ended with eight-year bans for Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini, there is intense scrutiny on the manifesto pledges of the five men seeking to secure the FIFA presidency in the Feb. 26 election in Zurich.

Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino, Prince Ali Bin al Hussein, Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa and Tokyo Sexwale are battling to replace the disgraced Blatter. The 79-year-old and Platini are both appealing the football bans.

The candidates will spend the next nine weeks criss-crossing the globe in a bid to convince FIFA’s 209 federations to vote for them.

Shaikh Salman is regarded as the front-runner now that Platini is out of the picture, while Infantino could provide strong competition. It’s hardto see where Prince Ali, who was defeated in the May election, will get his votes with Asia largely backing the Asian Football Confederation chief from Bahrain. The UEFA general secretary, meanwhile, will gather plenty of European support.

Issa Hayatou, the current interim president of FIFA, will play a pivotal role in bringing African votes to one of the candidates, which is unlikely to be Sexwale of South Africa. Champagne, a former FIFA deputy general secretary, has some good ideas and articulates them well but lacks the global connections to win.

Deals will be done and there will no doubt be a few more twists and turns in the contest. It’s hard to envisage all five remaining in the running; two or three of them are expected to drop out and throw their support behind the leading contenders.

Whoever secures the top job in world football must not only swiftly put in place structures and policies to restore FIFA’s scandal-hit credibility but also continue to manage the fall-out from the ongoing corruption scandal and implement reforms approved at the FIFA Congress.

2015 ranking: not ranked

Written by Mark Bisson.

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