ESPN has invited the five candidates vying to head the scandal-plagued FIFA to participate in a televised debate. The network said on its website that it made the offer seeking “a forum for open, transparent discussion about the future governance of the sport in advance of the election that will determine who occupies the most powerful position in global football”.
The candidates seeking to replace Sepp Blatter as the leader of FIFA in the February election include Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Asian football boss Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, South African politician and tycoon Tokyo Sexwale, UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino, and former FIFA official Jerome Champagne.
A total of 39 officials and business executives face charges in US courts to account for $200 million in bribes given or taken.
In Switzerland, Blatter is a formal suspect for “criminal mismanagement,” and European soccer boss Michel Platini was named in the inquiry over a “disloyal” two million Swiss franc ($2 million/1.8 million euro) payment he received in 2011. FIFA banned both men from soccer for eight years. That means Platini cannot even accept a ticket for the European Championships in his native France in 2016.
Blatter and Platini both strongly deny any wrongdoing, but only an appeal miracle will get Platini into the FIFA election in February.
Swiss investigators are also looking into the FIFA vote in 2010 to give the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar. German police have launched a probe into whether German organizers paid money to get votes for the 2006 World Cup.
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