The deadline for candidates to gain the required backing of five FA’s has come to pass, leaving us with only a handful left on the ballot. It is likely that most will not make it to the final ballot, but we will get to that later. We will be sure to explain the process so all who are not aware how it works are not lost. To illustrate the process, Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl ran back in 2011 and wrote about his experiences.
FIFA has 209 member voting nations. Each has a vote of equal value for the election, although it is common for confederations to predetermine and vote unanimously for a candidate. A simple majority is required to win the election, so the magic number is 105 votes. Each candidate must be nominated and receive the backing of five nations to get onto the ballot. They also have other requirements like ”The candidate shall have played an active role in association football [as a board member, committee member, referee and assistant referee, coach, trainer and any other person responsible for technical, medical or administrative matters in FIFA, a confederation, association, league or club or as a player] for two of the last five years before being proposed as a candidate.” Here are all of the people who declared their candidacy for the 2015 election.
The first man to announce his candidacy against Blatter is already out of the race. The Frenchman brought forth a concrete plan for his vision, but failed to get the backing of 5 FAs. Personally, I liked Champagne’s evidence of a plan, but apparently voters did not see it so.
More of a publicity stunt than a real bid. Ginola was paid by bookmaker Paddy Power to run, and predictably failed. Nothing much to say over the issue other than that.
In, For Now
The incumbent is searching for his 4th term, despite promises and public declarations that he would not run again after 2011. The 78-year old Swiss businessman has been in charge of FIFA since 1998. Blatter has not announced a platform for this campaign, but we can highlight what he has done in the past. Blatter has done some good for world football, making sure that little nations are not left out and spreading wealth to smaller FA’s around the world. In my not-so-humble opinion, the negative far outweighs the positives of Blatter winning again. He is knee deep in corruption allegations, refuses to reopen discussions about World Cup voting, and is pretty sexist. He doesn’t release any FIFA documents, including his unnamed salary, and has lost touch with the people of the game. Without becoming a bash-fest, let’s just say that Blatter did make some good advancements, but needs to move on.
The most recent addition to the race is the 42-year-old Portuguese footballer. Figo is largely popular with the players, and is still fresh in the minds of many fans across the world. He gained the backing of at least 5 FAs in just a few days, so there is a chance delegations may rally behind him.
Michael van Praag
The head of the Dutch FA has announced his candidacy to unseat Blatter. He has been the chairman of Ajax, while also being on the Executive Committee of UEFA. Van Praag formally announced his bid after Blatter publicly called out UEFA for talking and not putting a candidate forward. I am a fan of van Praag, but then again, I would take any of the candidates over Blatter.
Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein
Tough name to say, but a credible candidate for the job. A Prince of Jordan, has been the VP of Asia in FIFA, and is on the FIFA Executive Committee. One of his major accomplishments is having FIFA’s ban on the hijab in women’s football lifted. He is the youngest candidate in the race, still only 39.
What is Next?
For the candidates not named Blatter, gaining support and convincing the FAs that Blatter is no longer good for football. The rumors are that the trio of candidates will push anti-Blatter campaigns, with two candidates dropping out to support the one with the best chance. Candidates have between now and May 29th to state their case and sway voters.
Politics are Politics
The overwhelming public opinion of Batter is negative. But, like most politics, it is not about getting the people to like you, but rather the people who are voting. Members who make a stand and nominate a candidate risk being ostracized and cut off. That is why there are not many who are willing to stick their necks out to oppose Blatter. He has taken care of the officials in various FAs, playing the politics game.
Blatter knows he is not popular too, he just doesn’t care. He didn’t greet fans, or even make an address at the World Cup due to the boos that were going to ensue. He knows where his bread is buttered, and began taking steps to further his re-election cause last year. He declared that Europe and South America had too much representation at the World Cup and that African and Asia were underrepresented. Guess where the heaviest pro-Blatter supporters are…Asia and Africa. Not to mention they are two of the larger confederations. Let’s take a look at the vote breakdown.
Africa (CAF)- The largest voting block with 53 votes. CAF president Issa Hayatou used to be Blatter’s biggest critic, even running against him before dropping out of the race. Somehow they have become very good friends now, including getting Blatter a large majority of votes. This is probably Blatter’s best region, with at least 40 votes out of 53 going his way.
Asia (AFC)- Another large chunk of pro-Blatter supporters. Not to mention, the wealthy nation of Qatar. Prince Ali might have a shot to turn some of these voters, but it is not something to hold your breath over. With 47 votes, this could be another huge win for Blatter. Probably less than Africa, but definitely pro-Blatter.
Oceania (OFC) – All 11 nations have signed a letter of support for Blatter. Chances of getting even one or two votes here is slim.
South America (CONMEBOL) – Used to be very pro-Blatter, but support has waivered in recent years. If any candidate is going to unseat Blatter, they have to get CONMEBOL on their side. 10 votes are not much, but can definitely make the difference.
Europe (UEFA) – The biggest anti-Blatter confederation. Have 54 votes, which is huge. The key will be getting some of the Eastern European countries on board. They have a tendency to go with Blatter. Have to have at least 50 of these votes or they are dead in the water.
North America (CONCACAF) – Could be an interesting region. I’d say this is the swing region. 35 votes are up for grabs, and some of the people who supported Blatter previously are out due to corruption.
Despite a daunting task, I really think that someone can beat Blatter.
Here we go Team Not-Blatter!