Overseer: FIFA presidential ‘candidates’ not official yet
Not so fast, would-be FIFA presidential candidates.
FIFA’s election overseer urged caution on Friday before regarding applicants for the May 29 ballot as official candidates.
In a statement released by FIFA, compliance chairman Domenico Scala said his three-man panel overseeing the election rules has not even begun its work before next week’s entry deadline.
“We have to consider that it will take some time until the (panel) will be in a position to announce the candidates,” Scala said.
“Thus, we really cannot comment, regardless of whether any prospective candidate declares that he/she meets the requirements by the deadline,” said the Swiss former pharmaceutical industry executive.
Scala did not identify declared candidates, former France player David Ginola and former FIFA international relations director Jerome Champagne, by name.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter and FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan also intend to stand in the May 29 election.
However, would-be candidates must gather nominations from five of 209 member federations by Thursday.
Ginola and Champagne would also have to fulfil a key election rule of having held “active roles” in football for two years since 2010. Both cite consultancy work.
Ginola, who is standing because a bookmaker is paying him at least $380,000, is relying on his consulting with French amateur club Etoile Frejus, which plays in the third tier.
Club president Alexandre Barbero told The Associated Press on Monday that Ginola worked with him “mainly over the phone” over the past six years and is unpaid.
Barbero said the former PSG player never comes to the club as he does not want to interfere with the coaches’ work, saying that his advice “ranges from club management to the choice of players.”
“He is helping me on the decisions I make on a day-to-day basis,” Barbero said. “I call him whenever I want, and he gives me his valuable opinion.”
Champagne has advised the Palestinian football body, which is a FIFA member, plus North Cyprus and Kosovo, which are not. He has also worked with former African champion club TP Mazembe.
FIFA roles for Blatter and Prince Ali mean they risk being reported for unethical behavior if either breaches election rules on conflicts of interest and campaign funding by using their official positions as a platform to seek votes.
All candidates must also be subject to an integrity check by the FIFA ethics committee investigatory chamber. That group is being run by Swiss former prosecutor Cornel Borbely after lead prosecutor Michael Garcia resigned in protest last month
Scala said his panel can assess each applicant’s eligibility only after receiving the integrity check within 10 days.
FIFA published Scala’s statement hours after football agent Mino Raiola said he wanted to be a candidate.
Raiola was fined 5,000 Swiss francs (then $5,350) by FIFA in 2013 after he compared it to a mafia organization and called Blatter a “demented dictator.” The Italian agent was angered that his client Zlatan Ibrahimovic never won the Ballon d’Or award.
Paperwork confirming the nominations from individual member associations could also take time to arrive after the Jan. 29 deadline, Scala said.
“It is impossible for the (panel) to confirm anybody prior to having assessed the proposed candidates,” he said.
Scala’s panel colleagues are FIFA disciplinary committee chairman Claudio Sulser of Switzerland, and appeals committee chairman Larry Mussenden of Bermuda.
They must recuse themselves when dealing with a candidate of their own nationality.
AP Sports Writer Sam Petrequin in Paris contributed to this report.