Rivals eye presidency amid crisis meeting

The meeting in Zurich is expected to ratify that FIFA will hold its election for the presidency on February 26, but potential candidates only have until Monday to register their interest.

FIFA has been in chaos since the suspension of Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke and Michel Platini.   -  Getty Images

FIFA's executive committee gathered for Tuesday's crisis meeting as potential candidates consider standing for the presidency next February to claim the most powerful job in football.

The "extraordinary" meeting in Zurich is expected to ratify that FIFA will hold its election for the presidency on February 26, but potential candidates only have until Monday to register their interest.

Football's governing body has been in chaos since October 9 when the ethics committee suspended current president Sepp Blatter, secretary general Jerome Valcke, and Michel Platini for 90 days due to ongoing investigations.

Swiss authorities are investigating an irregular payment of two million Swiss francs Blatter made to Platini in 2011, as well as allegations he signed a contract "unfavourable" to FIFA.

Ex-Tottenham Hotspur and Switzerland defender Ramon Vega has said a former footballer should replace Blatter and was considering entering the race. "If I am the catalyst to reforming FIFA then I'm definitely considering going forward," said the 44-year-old Vega.

Bahrain's Shaikh Salman, president of the Asian Football Confederation, says he has been urged to run for the presidency, but has yet to decide.

Prince Ali bin al Hussein, who lost to Blatter in May's election, and former Trinidad and Tobago captain David Nakhid have officially stated their intention to run, as has Platini.

The UEFA president was considered the favourite to replace Blatter until his suspension and his chances appear to have nosedived since.

On Monday, Platini told French newspaper Le Monde he felt Blatter was seeking to "kill me politically" over the contested payment and says he feels "shame at being dragged through the mud". But the Frenchman still believes he is "the only one who can ensure that FIFA again becomes the home of football".

Neither Platini nor Blatter have yet explained the reason for the nine-year delay in payment for work Platini carried out as Blatter's technical advisor from 1999 to 2002.

Blatter, Platini and Valcke are all banned from attending Tuesday's FIFA gathering in Zurich, which is the first executive committee meeting held without Blatter's presence for 40 years. In the Swiss' absence, acting president Issa Hayatou will attempt to lead FIFA through the storm of scandals.

The Cameroonian says restoring public trust is a matter of priority. "It's certainly an unprecedented situation for FIFA," said the 69-year-old. "But we remain focused on the necessary reform process, the presidential election and on supporting the current investigations. To restore public trust is a crucial objective. It is essential that FIFA carries on its mission of developing the game and staging international tournaments."

On the agenda, the executive committee will hear the first recommendations from FIFA's reform committee, tasked with suggesting changes within football's corridors of power. The increased need for transparency on renumeration is also set to be discussed, but it is far from business as usual after the wave of scandals to blight FIFA this year.

Swiss investigators are also looking into the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar in a bribery scandal which has seen 14 people arrested by American and Swiss authorities.

Seven former FIFA officials were arrested by Swiss authorities in May as the United States attempts to have them extradited to face charges of accepting bribes.

Then, over the weekend, allegations of cash-for-votes by magazine Der Spiegel has drawn the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany into question and the German Football Association (DFB) has strenuously denied any wrong-doing.

State prosecutors in Frankfurt said on Monday they are already looking into the allegations in what could well bring more embarrassment to senior FIFA officials.

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