African soccer to vote for new FIFA Council member
After denying corruption and rape allegations, the chief organizer of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is one of five candidates set to stand in an election Sunday for a place on the FIFA Council.
Danny Jordaan will be trying to reach soccer’s top panel for the third time. His elevation would not sit well with critics after he was accused of involvement in an alleged $10 million bribe South Africa paid to corrupt former FIFA executives to win hosting rights for the World Cup.
Africa needs a new member on the council to replace Kwesi Nyantakyi, who is from Ghana and resigned after being implicated in an undercover documentary taking a prohibited cash gift of $65,000.
Jordaan, the president of the South African soccer federation, is one of five candidates for the vote at a Confederation of African Football meeting in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, which will be attended by FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
The others are veteran Tanzanian administrator and former international player Leodegar Tenga, Seychelles federation head Elvis Chetty, Kenyan entrepreneur Nick Mwendwa, and former Malawi player Walter Nyamilandu.
By experience, Jordaan and Tenga appear to be the favorites but both have failed to win over Africa’s member countries in elections before.
The position is reserved for a representative from Africa’s English-speaking countries.
A look at the candidates:
DANNY JORDAAN (South Africa)
Before he organized Africa’s first World Cup, Jordaan was an anti-apartheid activist and then politician who served as a member of parliament for Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress party from 1994-97.
His international reputation was largely built on South Africa’s successful World Cup but it’s been diminished in recent years and he’s become a target for criticism in his home media.
That began in 2015 when the U.S. Department of Justice’s sprawling investigation into corruption in world soccer accused two South African officials of helping facilitate a $10 million payment to corrupt FIFA executives as payback for their decisive World Cup votes. Jordaan was linked to the plan but denies any wrongdoing. South Africa’s government said the payment wasn’t a bribe but rather a gift to promote soccer.
Jordaan has also denied allegations by a South African singer who claimed she was raped by Jordaan more than 20 years ago at a hotel in his hometown.
The 67-year-old Jordaan’s campaign for the FIFA Council was boosted when the southern African region endorsed him as their preferred candidate, theoretically giving him their 14 votes, although there’s no guarantee they will vote that way.
Jordaan was soundly beaten to a place on the then-FIFA executive committee in 2011 and withdrew from contention for a council place last year as speculation swirled of his alleged involvement in the World Cup bribery.
LEODEGAR TENGA (Tanzania)
The 63-year-old Tenga is a former Tanzania player and captain and the former head of his country’s soccer federation. He is well-liked, although that hasn’t helped him previously. He lost to Nyantakyi in a vote for the FIFA Council last year. Like Jordaan, Tenga is a member of the Confederation of African Football’s executive committee.
ELVIS CHETTY (Seychelles)
Chetty is a lawyer who has worked on the FIFA body that handles disputes between clubs and players. He has been head of the Seychelles federation since 2012 but, like Mwendwa and Nyamilandu, is a relative newcomer to African soccer politics and seen as an outside shot for the FIFA Council place.
NICK MWENDWA (Kenya)
At 39, Mwendwa is the youngest of the candidates but has refused to bow out of the race because of his perceived inexperience. The founder and CEO of a Kenyan IT and tech company, Mwendwa is the owner of a club and the president of the Kenyan federation.
WALTER NYAMILANDU (Malawi)
Another former international player turned administrator, Nyamilandu balances his work as the head of the Malawi Football Association with a role as the Malawian marketing head of an international sugar producer. He is also a preacher at a Pentecostal church.