EU red cards FIFA presidential candidate debate

Tokyo Sexwale
Tokyo Sexwale

Brussels - The European Parliament on Monday cancelled a debate between hopefuls for the FIFA presidency after key contenders Prince Ali bin al Hussein and Tokyo Sexwale pulled out at the last minute.

The event was due to take place on Wednesday at the parliament in Brussels, but had to be called off after the French candidate Jerome Champagne was the only one still ready to take part, organisers said.

"We regret this decision. It sends another bad signal," said a statement from the parliament's Sport Intergroup, which organised the debate along with the campaign group New FIFA Now.

"The planned forum with the candidates for the presidency of FIFA will not now finally take place, after the withdrawal at the very last minute of Prince Ali and Tokyo Sexwale."

The debate was meant to involve former FIFA vice-president Prince Ali, South African tycoon Sexwale, former FIFA official Champagne, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino and Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

The parliamentary group said former FIFA vice-president Prince Ali had told them the debate could breach the rules of the FIFA campaign.

The cancellation comes just weeks after a televised debate between the five hopefuls was also called off because three of the contenders refused to take part.

The FIFA presidential election, when a successor to the disgraced Sepp Blatter will be voted in as the head of world football's governing body, will take place in Zurich on February 26.

Blatter was banned for eight years by FIFA's ethics committee last month over a "disloyal payment" of two million Swiss francs made in 2011 to UEFA president Michel Platini, who was also banned.

"This election should be the chance to bring more transparency, ethics and good governance to the highest level of FIFA - but this is yet another missed chance and a bad signal to all federations and all fans of clean football," the parliament statement said.

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