LAUSANNE (AFP) – A FIFA electoral committee on Monday approved incumbent Sepp Blatter and three rivals for an election for the presidency of football’s global governing body to be held on May 29.
Blatter, who has been in the post since 1998, is opposed by Dutch federation president Michael van Praag, Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, a FIFA vice-president, and Portuguese football great and former Ballon d’Or winner Luis Figo.
A FIFA statement said all four had passed “integrity checks” so they could be allowed into the election.
At the FIFA Congress the winner has to get the majority of the 205 FIFA members.
Blatter, who will be 79 by the time of the vote, is strong favourite to win a fifth term but faces a strong European-led opposition, largely over the controversial vote to give Qatar the 2022 World Cup and the subsequent fallout over the report into the bid.
However, the Swiss official – who revised his original pledge not to run for a fifth term – has had strong public backing from the African and Asian continental confederations.
His reign has notably been tarnished by accusations of corruption stemming from the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, the former being awarded to Russia.
The controversies have seriously eroded his support and tarnished his reputation in European strongholds like England, Germany and the Netherlands.
However, the success of last summer’s World Cup in Brazil, despite earlier fears over the state of the organisation, has further boosted his status.
Figo, 42, and 67-year-old van Praag both announced their candidatures a fortnight ago while Prince Ali, 39, launched his campaign at the start of the year.
All three were successful in getting the minimum of five national associations to back their bids.
Two others who had been considering standing – former France international forward David Ginola and ex-FIFA executive official Jerome Champagne – both failed to get the necessary backing and were eliminated from the final reckoning last week.