(WFI) INSIDER has learned that four of the five candidates vying for the FIFA presidency will pitch their cases to all CONCACAF federations at a meeting in Miami on Thursday.
The contenders seeking to replace the disgraced Sepp Blatter will each get 20 minutes to set out their visions to reform scandal-scarred FIFA to leaders of the 41 member associations of the North, Central American and Caribbean confederation.
The two-day meeting, starting tomorrow, takes place at the Sheraton Miami Airport hotel.
With 41 votes at stake, CONCACAF is a key battleground for the FIFA candidates – Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino, Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa and and Tokyo Sexwale.
The FIFA candidates are arriving in Miami today and Thursday to lobby CONCACAF leaders and hold private meetings with federation presidents, as they seek to grow their support base with 16 days until the election in Zurich. The presentations are scheduled for Thursday evening local time.
However, INSIDER is told that Prince Ali will not be travelling to Miami. But he will attempt to get his message across in a video presentation to be screened at the CONCACAF meeting. Ali has a press conference scheduled in Geneva on Thursday.
Infantino has already made some headway in the region. He presented his FIFA vision at the CONCACAF ExCo in Miami in December; the ExCo publically backed his candidacy.
UNCAF, the Central American federations body, which includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, endorsed the UEFA general secretary on a previous visit to the region last month.
In the Caribbean, Infantino has expressions of support from Barbados, Grenada, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
Prince Ali may find new supporters among the CONCACAF federations after coming to their defence last week. He slammed a FIFA audit committee decision to stop funding worth around $20 million to both CONCACAF and CONMEBOL following the corruption exposed at the top of the confederations. Six recent presidents of CONCACAF or CONMEBOL are among those currently indicted on corruption charges in the U.S.
On Tuesday, Prince Ali again aimed fire at Domenico Scala, chair of the FIFA audit and compliance committee that withdrew the funding, when he called for him to step aside as head of FIFA’s electoral committee.
In an odd piece of electioneering, the FIFA candidate from Jordan said he was backing the request made by Liberian FA Musa Bility who endorsed Ali’s campaign a few days ago – the man who was dropped as a FIFA presidential candidate by Scala’s electoral committee in November after failing to pass integrity checks.
Bility had called for Scala to step aside because he shares Swiss-Italian nationality with FIFA contender Gianni Infantino.
Ali’s request came a day after INSIDER published a story quoting Scala’s spokesman explaining why the FIFA official was under no obligation to step down.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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