FIFA presidential elections in February

ZURICH – FIFA will hold a presidential election on February 26, giving Sepp Blatter seven more months in power before leaving the scandal-tainted governing body.

The date was chosen by FIFA’s executive committee on Monday, after Blatter announced plans to resign four days following his re-election in May amid American and Swiss criminal investigations into corruption.

The 79-year-old Blatter, who first joined FIFA 40 years ago, has held onto the most world powerful job in world soccer since 1998.

FIFA’s 209 members, who elected Blatter to a fifth term in May, will return to Zurich next year to select a new president almost nine months after Blatter’s resignation statement.

Potential contenders include UEFA President Michel Platini and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, who lost to Blatter in May.

Former Brazil great Zico and Liberia football federation president Musa Bility have said they would seek the five nominations required by the October 26 deadline.

FIFA announced the election date shortly before a scheduled news conference by Blatter. The FIFA executive committee meeting was also due to discuss ways of reforming the organisation to regain the trust of fans and sponsors, including presidential term limits.

Prince Ali on Monday joined World Cup sponsor Coca-Cola and former FIFA advisers Transparency International in calling for Blatter to be excluded from the process of shaping the organisation’s future after a litany of scandals on his watch.

Prince Ali told The Associated Press that Blatter “cannot be permitted to plan his succession and manage this election process.

“President Blatter’s resignation cannot be dragged out any longer. He must leave now,” Prince Ali, a FIFA vice-president for four years until May, said in a statement to the AP.

“An interim independent leadership must be appointed to administer the process of the elections, in addition to the reforms that are being discussed prior to the elections,” he added.

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