FIFA Presidential Election 2016 Date Announced: Expected Candidates and Reaction

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistJuly 20, 2015

AP Images

Sepp Blatter has seven months remaining as FIFA president after football's governing body announced his successor will be revealed on Feb. 26, 2016, as Richard Conway of BBC Sport reported.

Next year's election was set on Monday after many of FIFA's top officials descended on Zurich for an extraordinary executive committee meeting. 

Nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives were indicted on charges of "racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracies" at the end of May, per the United States Department of Justice.

Despite winning the election on May 29, Blatter's position as president became untenable and he opted to resign amid increasing scrutiny at the beginning of June. The New York Times (h/t BBC News) suggests the FBI is building a case against him, but Blatter is not under investigation in the second probe, which is being carried out by Swiss officials.  

Jorge Saenz/Associated Press

FIFA vice president Jeffrey Webb was among those arrested, but he pleaded not guilty to a plethora of charges on Saturday, according to Reuters (h/t Eurosport). Both investigations are ongoing and will continue to shake FIFA up, not least with the removal of Blatter, who began his presidency in 1998.

Those who wish to stand in February must make their intentions known no later than four months before the upcoming election, per Reuters. Conway believes UEFA president Michel Platini, who didn't stand in May, has been approached by multiple confederations to put his name forward.

Paul Kelso of Sky News indicates the Frenchman could accept the opportunity while also discussing two other footballing legends who will attempt to make an impact:

Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News and the Guardian's Owen Gibson commented on Platini's potential involvement:

Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan ran Blatter closest last time, forcing the vote to a second round after the Swiss oligarch failed to receive the majority needed for an overwhelming victory. However, Prince Ali withdrew before the second batch of votes were counted when it became obvious he was going to suffer defeat by a large margin.

He believes Blatter cannot stay in charge until the February vote, per Conway:

President Blatter's resignation cannot be dragged out any longer. He must leave now. He cannot be permitted to plan his succession and manage this election process. 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.

As noted by Conway, Prince Ali is yet to publicly reveal whether he will stand again.

Raad Adayleh/Associated Press

Dutch official Michael van Praag and former Real Madrid superstar Luis Figo were two candidates who pulled out of the race before the election in May. Van Praag remains quiet on his next potential attempt to claim the throne, but Figo previously suggested he is always available to try and improve ethics in football, according to Sky Sports:

I regret nothing (when pulling out of the May 2015 election). I fought, I persisted, I made an effort for the regeneration of this organisation that has to change course. We live in an emergency situation and football is the damaged party on this.

I've denounced what I directly lived. I would do it again. And I remain available to help FIFA rebuild after this.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Gibson suggests Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah of Kuwait could make a run for the position after establishing his power in the International Olympic Committee.

Questions will be raised over Blatter's need to remain in office so long, particularly as his continuation could slow down the recovery of FIFA's image. His name was synonymous with scandal and offensive remarks before May's raids, meaning his departure will play a key role in FIFA restoring its name.

Much is likely to change before February arrives, but for those looking to topple Blatter, a target date for their campaigns can now be zoned in on.  

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