A special election by FIFA is to be held on February 26 to replace president Sepp Blatter, football’s scandal-tainted world body said Monday as French football great Michel Platini moved closer to launching a campaign.
Sepp Blatter was to announce at a later press conference whether the executive committee agreed to first reform measures for the multi-billion dollar body. FIFA is still reeling from the arrest of seven officials at a Zurich congress two days before Blatter won reelection on May 29.
The seven are among 14 people — soccer officials and sports business executives — accused by US authorities over more than $150 million in bribes paid to secure television and marketing contracts for football tournaments.
Former FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb appeared in a New York court on Saturday after being extradited from Switzerland last week. He denied bribery charges but was only released on $10 million bail.
Swiss authorities are in parallel investigating the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively. Candidates for the FIFA presidency have until October 26 to put their names forward.
So far only Brazilian football great Zico has officially declared himself. But Platini is considered the favourite to take over if he decides to stand.
Platini will decide in the next two weeks whether to run, a source close to the UEFA leadership said.
The 60-year-old Frenchman is closing on a campaign after getting verbal support from four of the six regional confederations that make up football’s world body, the source told AFP.
Only the Confederation of African Football (CAF) — led by Blatter ally Issa Hiyatou — and the Oceania confederation is not backing Platini.
The UEFA leader has made increasing calls for reform of the world body in recent months. These have been heightened since the raid on the Zurich hotel to detain the seven FIFA officials.
“He is seriously considering running. He will make a decision in the next two weeks maximum and then make an announcement,” the source said.
If Platini, now in his third term as president of Europe’s UEFA, decides not to stand he could reveal who he will back in the election.