FIFA Election update: Sexwale withdraws, grading candidates speeches

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My word, it’s been a busy day so far in Zurich with wide-ranging reforms already approved by FIFA’s members at the extraordinary congress.

All five candidates to become FIFA president were also on stage and gave 15-minute speeches to the 207 member nations of world soccer’s governing body, and the watching world with the event streamed live online and shown on TV.

[ MORE: FIFA approves new reforms ] 

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, Gianni Infantino, Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale all took to the stage but the latter announced his withdrawal from the race at the end of his entertaining speech.

And then there were four…

So, now the first round of voting has begun as one individual most gain at least two thirds of the vote to be named the new president. If that doesn’t occur then a second round of voting happens and then potentially a third if its needed.

[ MORE: How the election will work

Above is an explainer on exactly how the voting process works, while below we have a bit of fun and give each man a mark out of 10 for their speeches on stage.

Sheikh Salman – 6 – First of all, said he “wanted to speak from the heart and not be dictated by paper” but then looked down and what were presumably a few notes. Apart from that, was very authoritative and the big line was that he told congress: “I’m not ready to mortgage the future of FIFA for election purposes.” Solid but unspectacular, applauded on his way to the stage.

Gianni Infantino – 7 – Used his vast linguistic skills to switch between languages and went on a trip around the world to show how each member must be treated differently. Received huge applause when saying “the money of FIFA is for the development of football and nothing else. This is what we have to do.” Strong but probably not enough to usurp Salman.

Prince Ali – 6 – Up first, Prince Ali of Jordan was extremely courteous and listed off high-ranking officials who support him such as Kofi Annan. A little underwhelming but a solid speech with one of the opening lines resonating strongly: “FIFA’s past must not be allowed to destroy its future.” Needed a big-time speech to try and challenge Infantino and Salman. Not quite enough, again, for the only man to challenge Blatter in last May’s election.

Jerome Champagne – 5 – A rather serious yet slightly subdued speech, Champagne is more of the “football man” and focused on closing the gap between FIFA’s smaller nations and the big boys. Talked plenty of sense but he is an extreme outsider.

Toxyo Sexwale – 8 – So. Much. Banter. Sexwale dropped the mic in epic fashion at the end, announcing his withdrawal. He was likely to get zero votes but with his incredible penchant for public speaking — despite the shutout to Blatter and Platini which was warmly received by the members in the room — the South African will have a bright future in whatever he tries to do in FIFA or elsewhere.