How FIFA elects a new president

World Today

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The FIFA Congress voted Friday to elect a new president, replacing scandal-clad Sepp Blatter with Gianni Infantino of Switzerland. Here’s how it works.

The candidates

There are four candidates:

  1. Jerome Champagne of France
  2. Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain 
  3. Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan
  4. Gianni Infantino of Switzerland 

A fifth candidate, Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa, withdrew only moments before the voting began.

The voters

There are 209 member associations of FIFA, and each one usually holds one vote. This means tiny associations such as Brunei, Sao Tome, and Principe and Andorra hold the same voting rights as Germany, Italy, and Brazil.

However, only 207 voted Friday as Kuwait and Indonesia are currently suspended from FIFA.

The process

Before the ballot, each candidate can address the Congress for 15 minutes. Afterwards, a secret ballot is held, and as many rounds of voting will take place as necessary to determine a winner. 

To be elected in the first round, a candidate must obtain two-thirds of the votes cast. In this case, roughly 137 votes would be needed. 

If this does not happen, a second round is held round is held. This time, a simple majority of more than 50 percent of the votes is sufficient for a candidate to be elected. Here, that’s 103 or 104.

Infantino was elected during the second round of voting.

If no candidate were to have received a majority, the candidate with the least votes would have been eliminated and a new round held. That would have continued until one candidate obtained a majority.

How long it takes

A FIFA source said the election was expected to start at 1300 GMT. At previous elections, each round have taken around one-and-a-half hours to complete, including vote counting.

The rules

According to FIFA guidelines, a candidate has to have played an active role in association football for two of the five years preceding his proposed candidature.

The candidate has to present declarations of support from at least five of FIFA’s member associations, although these associations do not have to vote for the candidate they backed.

David Nakhid was ruled out of the race because one the associations which backed him also provided a declaration of support to another candidate.

The candidates were subject to “integrity checks” by FIFA’s ethics committee which were failed by one candidate, Musa Bility of Liberia.


Information largely based on Reuters reporting.