(WFI) Preparations for the coming FIFA World Cup in Brazil have informed INSIDER’s Ten To Watch in 2014 series.
The series highlights the people INSIDER considers to be the most influential figures in the global football business this year.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter leads the charge with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, UEFA president Michel Platini, AFC president Sheikh Salman, and Qatar 2022 chief Hassan Al-Thawadi rounding out the top five.
Blatter, a pivotal figure in any year, will see his profile rise in 2014 when football’s governing body will oversee the staging of the world’s biggest sporting event. Additionally, it will be the 77-year old’s best opportunity to build momentum headed into a probable re-election campaign in 2015.
INSIDER editor Mark Bisson said it was “no surprise” to see Blatter at the top, and called completing the FIFA reforms process a “difficult challenge” for the president.
“Two controversial elements – votes on term and age limits – were discarded from the 2013 congress agenda,” said Bisson. “Now they must be dealt with, and the 77-year-old’s reputation is on the line.
“His presidential campaign could take a dent if significant numbers of the 209 member FAs of FIFA challenge his views.”
A pair of Brazilians in the Ten to Watch in 2014 series, Rousseff and Barcelona striker Neymar (#6), reflect the towering importance the host country is placing on the tournament as it prepares for the first of two major international competitions over the next three years.
After Neymar, the rest of the top ten included CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, FIFA vice president Prince Ali, David Beckham, Lionel Messi, and Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi and Ronaldo share the #10 slot.