Who are the most likely candidates to replace Sepp Blatter?

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To say that 2015 has been a bad year for FIFA would be a rather big understatement as the level of corruption which continues to threaten the integrity of football grows stronger as each day passes by. Instrumental figures at the head of football’s governing body continue to have their name tarnished by an on-going investigation carried out by FIFA-employed adjudicatory committee, and while they may be a number of cases taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, it could result in a serious reform that fans and media alike have been crying out for.

The upcoming presidential election next year on February 26th presents a perfect opportunity for major change to happen, with FIFA crying out for a fresh face with innovative ideas to repair the governing body’s tarnished reputation and instill the high levels of ethics and morality that should be commonplace when being in supreme control of a global sport. Betway are keeping right up to date with the latest movers and shakers on their sports betting market, and with the latest revelation that suspended FIFA vice-president and UEFA chief Michel Platini (who has thrown his hat into the ring to replace Blatter) could be facing a life-time ban following a ‘disloyal payment’ received from the outgoing president in 2011, it has blown the market wide open. Being suspended for ninety day due to these corruption charges has resulted in Platini, who many considered to be a strong candidate to replace 79-year-old Blatter, losing the level of integrity that may have tipped the scales of power in his favour, with several other candidates now seemingly in a better position to put their case forwards towards being the next FIFA president.

Prince Ali Al-Hussein

Platini’s fall from grace has enabled Prince Ali Al-Hussein to storm ahead in the betting market as odds-on favourite to be the new face of FIFA. As other candidates have fallen by the wayside through a lack of support, being under investigation or, in the case of Chung Mong-joon, banned by FIFA for several breaches of the ethics code, the 39-year-old has remained free of any controversy or claims of corruption. At odds of 10/11, will Sepp Blatter bet on his FIFA presidency predecessor? There is no sure-fire thing where FIFA are concerned, particularly during the on-going investigations which could see a number of official members banned for life, but Prince Ali appears in a good position to stake his claim as the next president.

The FIFA president for Asia arguably stands up as the strongest candidate after being the only man to challenge Blatter in the election held earlier this year; although Prince Ali, who became president of the Jordanian Football Association at the age of just 23, only received 73 votes compared to Blatter’s 133 in the first round of voting before withdrawing, it was a moral victory that highlighted an element of support from several FIFA members who want to see change. His age may also be a factor, with the executive committee looking for a fresh face that will lead from the front and integrate policies that helps to reform the organization from top to bottom. Although becoming the next president will be based on much more than age, Prince Ali has retained a staunch belief in his own ability to make FIFA a great organization once again and repair the damage created by Blatter’s controversial leadership.

Salman Al-Khalifa

The crown prince of Bahrain and president of the Asian Football Confederation has stepped up to the plate in place of the suspended Blatter as a candidate to become FIFA president, but although he is second favorite behind Prince Ali at 3/1, his actions have created furore for non-footballing reasons. Sheikh Salman is believed to have strong backing from several football associations across the world, particularly from members within Platini’s UEFA constituency which should put the 46-year-old, who was elected onto the FIFA executive committee in 2013, in a good position when the election begins. However, there have been protests over his decision to run for FIFA presidency from human rights organisations who believe Sheikh Salman and his family played a fundamental role in the brutal suppression of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain back in 2011 which allegedly resulted in athletes being imprisoned and tortured. It remains to be seen whether Sheikh Salman will come out as the clear candidate he claims to be, but with serious accusations pointed towards him and his family over the handling of the anti-government protests, there is a question as to whether he has the required ethical levels to win football’s official governing body.

Gianni Infantino

Working closely alongside Platini as general secretary for six years may not be the best credential to have on a candidacy resume following the UEFA president’s dramatic fall from grace, but Gianni Infantino is certainly an influential figure within the FIFA organization who could be a real contender to replace Blatter. The 45-year-old, who is often seen making the Champions League draw on an annual basis, will certainly receive comprehensive backing from UEFA after he announced that he will enter the FIFA presidential race. Infantino’s decision, along with Jerome Champagne who has also thrown his hat into the ring, may irk Platini as he has seen his two closest colleagues challenge him for a position he would dearly love, but 5/1 represents good value for those looking to back a candidate who is guaranteed a significant number of votes next February.

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