Fifa to pick Blatter's replacement in Feb
WORLD football's troubled governing body Fifa will vote for a new president, to replace Sepp Blatter at a special congress to be held on Feb 26 in Zurich, the organisation said yesterday.
An "extraordinary elective congress" with all 209 member associations invited will decide on the successor to the embattled and controversial Swiss, who has been at the helm of Fifa since 1998.
The timing of the congress is later than many expected and is seen as a victory for Blatter, who had wanted the vote pushed back until next year.
Uefa and some other regional bodies had sought a December election.
Fifa statutes stipulate that candidates need to have the written support of five member associations to stand and must announce their intention to run four months ahead of a vote, meaning the deadline for nominations is Oct 26.
Uefa president Michel Platini has emerged as the early front runner, with a source close to European football's governing body saying the Frenchman enjoys support from four of the six regional confederations that make up Fifa.
Platini, a former France international who played for Italian giants Juventus, has yet to state whether he intends to run, with the source saying he will decide within the next 10 days or so.
Blatter announced on June 2 that he was stepping down, just four days after winning a fifth term with an election victory at a congress.
The 79-year-old had been re-elected after his only rival, Jordan's Prince Ali Al-Hussein, withdrew after gaining 73 votes to the Swiss' 133 in the first round of voting.
Blatter's election at the congress in May was overshadowed by the raids on a five-star hotel in Zurich which saw seven Fifa officials, including vice-president Jeffrey Webb, arrested.
The seven are among 14 people - football officials and sports business executives - accused by the United States authorities of paying more than US$150 million in bribes to secure television and marketing contracts for football tournaments.
Webb faces charges of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering in the US. He pleaded not guilty in a US court on Saturday and was released on bail.
Blatter has repeatedly said that he will not stand again and while he has reneged on that promise before, saying his election in 2011 was his last before changing his mind, it would be a major surprise if he made another U-turn.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE