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FIFA presidential election: The key facts in race to replace Sepp Blatter

One of the most important elections in FIFA's history takes place on Feb. 26, when officials vote on who should replace former president Sepp Blatter.

With world football's governing body embroiled in a continuing corruption crisis, five candidates are vying for the top job.

Here, we take a look at 10 key things about the election that will shape FIFA's future ...

1. Who are the candidates in the FIFA presidential election?

Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa. The Bahrani royal is president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA executive committee member.

Gianni Infantino. UEFA General Secretary who has been at European football's governing body since 2000.

Tokyo Sexwale. Wealthy South African businessman who was imprisoned on Robben Island with Nelson Mandela.

Jerome Champagne. FIFA's former deputy general secretary who also once worked in the French diplomatic service.

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein. Member of Jordanian royal family who lost to Sepp Blatter in last May's presidential election.


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2. Who is the favourite?

The election has emerged as a two-horse race between Sheikh Salman and Infantino.

3. How will the election work?

With two nations suspended (Kuwait and Indonesia), 207 of FIFA's 209 members each get a vote. They will be summoned one at a time to vote in secret. If any candidate wins a two-thirds majority or 138 votes after the first round, he will be declared the winner. If this does not happen, the candidate with a simple majority in subsequent rounds will become the next FIFA president.

4. Where is the election being held?

In Zurich's 13,000-capacity Hallenstadion, which is one of the city's largest entertainment venues.

5. What time will voting take place?

There is no specific time, but the election is No.11 on a 12-item agenda. World football officials will begin arriving from 9 a.m. local time (8 a.m. GMT / 3 a.m. ET) with voting set to get underway in the afternoon.

6. Is FIFA gathering just to choose a new president?

No. Member nations will also vote on crucial reforms that will be presented to them as part of FIFA's drive to root out corruption within the organisation.

7. How are the votes committed in the election?

FIFA is made up of six confederations and some have already declared whom they are backing for president. The largest, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) with 56 members, is supporting Sheikh Salman, along with the Asian Football Confederation, which has 47 members.

Most of UEFA, with 54 members, will be backing Infantino. CONMEBOL, with 10 members, has also publicly declared support for him. According to CONCACAF officials whom ESPN FC has spoken with, Infantino is also their preferred choice, particularly within the Caribbean, which makes up 31 of its 41 members. But the organisation will not publicly declare who it is backing until it gathers in Zurich a day before next Friday's election.

Oceania, with 11 votes, has not yet come out in favour of any candidate.

8. Do the confederations have to vote as a bloc?

No. And this is where the other three candidates could prove to be instrumental. Within the AFC, for example, Prince Ali is believed to have the backing of most of the 13 members in the West Asian Football Federation. He is founder and president of the organisation, which forms part of the AFC.

Australia, Japan and South Korea voted for him last May and may do so again this time. Last month, he told media that he had "picked up private commitments of support from several other nations," in Africa and the Caribbean.

9. How many votes could each candidate receive?

In the first round, Sheikh Salman could pick up around 90 votes; Infantino around 80; Prince Ali 25-30 and the others fewer than five each, meaning that no candidate is likely to receive a two-thirds majority and a simple majority may decide the result in the second round.

10. Who could be king maker?

Prince Ali. He is no fan of Sheikh Salman, who replaced him on FIFA's executive committee last April and also questioned his ethics over a co-operation deal earlier this month between CAF and the AFC. The Prince also recently raised concerns about Sheikh Salman's role in quelling pro-democracy protests in Bahrain in 2011. Expect his backers to throw their lot behind Infantino after the first round.

Which way FIFA's smallest confederation Oceania swings will also be crucial.

Vivek Chaudhary covers FIFA and the financial side of the game for ESPN FC. Twitter: @viveksport


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