The FIFA presidency is up for grabs on May 29, 2015, and now, three candidates have been officially announced to challenge incumbent president Sepp Blatter for the highest and most important position in all of football.
The three candidates are former Portugal international Luis Figo, Dutch FA president Michael van Praag, and Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan. The three were deemed eligible to run for the presidency after their respective bids met the requirements set by the sport’s governing body.
Conspicuous by his absence is former Newcastle United player David Ginola, who made news earlier this month when Irish bookmaker Paddy Power launched a (somewhat) serious campaign to champion Ginola’s attempt to become FIFA president. His inclusion isn’t actually surprising since many believed that he was nothing more than a nuisance candidate put in place to give Paddy Power more mainstream news coverage. On that end, the stunt ended up becoming a huge success so it’s not like Paddy Power is sweating over Ginola’s failed bid.
In any case, Blatter remains the odds-on favorite to win the presidency. Should he do so – he’s a 1/6 favorite – it would become his fifth term as the governing body’s president, extending a run as president that began in 1998. Blatter’s tenure has often times attracted controversy from all sectors of the sport, but the other three candidates appear to be in for a tough task unseating the incumbent this time around.
Former FIFA executive Jerome Champagne was originally touted as the most serious threat to Blatter’s throne, but the Frenchman announced his withdrawal from the race after receiving only three of five required nominations from football associations. With him out of the running, Figo is now considered as Blatter’s closest rival, although his odds fall somewhere in the 12/1 to 16/1 range. Those are still better odds than the ones van Praag and Al-Hussein have, both of whom are around the 20/1 to 25/1 range to topple Blatter’s presidential bid.
If the three candidates have any chance of beating Blatter, they’re going to have to do to their homework and get some votes in Asia, Africa, and South America. The three regions are widely considered Blatt territories and it’s entirely within reason that the current FIFA president could end up sweeping all available votes from associations in those areas.
Figo, van Praag, and Al-Hussein have to do that, and then fight to receive the backing of UEFA, which has 53 of the 209 available votes. These are tasks that are far easier said than done, which is why most see Blatter winning this vote handily and continuing his reign as FIFA president.