Who Could be the New FIFA President?

There was widespread jubilation at the news Sepp will step down as FIFA President, but unless his replacement can bring about change it will be little more than a symbolic gesture.

|
Jun 3 2015, 3:09pm

Photo by PA Images

Following Sepp Blatter's confirmation that he will step down as FIFA President, world football is set to get its first new leader in 17 years. Here's a rundown of the early front-runners faced with the task of guiding the organisation into its new era.

Michel Platini

Considered the strong early favourite, Platini has long been seen as Blatter's natural successor at FIFA. He has been UEFA President since 2007 and remained supportive of Blatter until last week when he asked the Swiss to resign. He did so as "a friend", never burning his bridges with the incumbent. Platini's greatest drawbacks are his close links to the previous administration.

Having morphed into another grey-suited administrator, it is easy to forget that Platini was once a lithe youngster and one of the finest footballers to play the game (it's not unlike Xavi or Arjen Robben being sat in the same seat 20 years from now). A three-time winner of the Ballon d'Or, he captained France to Euro 84 glory — scoring nine of his side's 14 goals at the tournament — and was prolific at club level with Nancy, Saint-Étienne, and Juventus.

Prince Ali of Jordan

The only rival to Blatter in last Friday's vote, Ali is the second son of the late King Hussein of Jordan and brother of the incumbent, Abdullah II. As such he is a claimed descendant of the prophet Muhammad.

Ali is President of the Jordan Football Association and led calls for FIFA to lift its ban on the hijab, opening the game up to scores of Islamic women.

He has suggested that he is willing to run again following Blatter's resignation. However, Ali may struggle to recapture his support having previously been seen as a protest vote, rather than a viable alternative.

READ MORE: The Prince Who Challenged Sepp Blatter

Luis Figo

Former Portuguese international Luis Figo was a strong opponent of Blatter, but withdrew from the race so that support would not be split and backed Prince Ali. He has administrative experience at Inter Milan and knows how to handle difficult situations — Figo once had a severed pig's head thrown at him by Barcelona fans after leaving the club for Real Madrid.

Figo has not yet confirmed whether he will run again.

Michael van Praag

The Dutch FA president, Van Praag also ran against Blatter but quit so as not to split the vote. He is a former chairman of Ajax, as was his father before him. His age could be a hindrance: Van Praag is nearing 70 and there is a feeling that FIFA requires a young leader to take the organisation forward.

Nevertheless, he has suggested that he may run again following Blatter's departure.

Sunil Gulati

The Indian-born American is in his third term as President of the US Soccer Federation and has played an important role in the game's development in the country. Following Blatter's resignation, Gulati said: "This is the first of many steps towards real and meaningful reform within FIFA. Today is an occasion for optimism and belief for everyone who shares a passion for our game."

Gulati backed Prince Ali in last week's election.

Dark Horses

Issa Hayatou: President of the Confederation of African Football. Stood against Blatter in 2002 but in recent years he has been an ally. At 79 and with links to previous corruption scandals he is unlikely to succeed in a bid.

David Gill: Former chief executive of Manchester United, vice-chairman of the EnglishFootball Association, and a FIFA Vice-President. Gill initially rejected the latter position in protest against Blatter's presidency. His links to the English game could hinder a bid.

Greg Dyke: Director-General of the BBC from 2000 until 2004, current chairman of the English FA and vocally anti-Blatter. Age and current role make him an unlikely candidate; also not great at playing it cool.

Corinne Blatter: Sepp's daughter. Might want to pick up the family trade?

Grant Wahl: Prominent U.S sportswriter who semi-seriously announced he wanted to run for FIFA president in 2011. Wrote The Beckham Experiment, so probably not popular with the English FA (which may be a benefit).

Harry Redknapp: Ruling Redknapp out of any job anywhere in football is inherently foolish.