The FIFA candidates (Getty)

(WFI) The FIFA presidential candidates are lobbying for votes at the FIFA Ballon d’Or in Zurich and Accra early this week.

With 46 days until the presidential election, all five candidates are ramping up their campaigns, visiting as many of the 209 federations as they can in their quest for votes.

Jerome Champagne, the former FIFA deputy general, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, a former FIFA vice president and UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino are in Zurich today for the annual FIFA awards gala. South African Tokyo Sexwale may also attend. Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar are contesting the World Player of the Year title.

Ali was in London at the weekend and attended the Arsenal v Sunderland Premier League match. The Jordanian, Asian football boss Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Infantino are expected in Accra, capital of Ghana, on Tuesday to attend the general assembly of the West African Football Union Zone B.

The presidential contenders will have the opportunity to present their FIFA manifesto pledges and meet delegates from Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Togo, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Ghana. They will speak to media at the press conference following the congress.

Champagne is unable to attend but has sent his apologies to Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi, who is chairing the meeting, and leaders of the seven African federations in attendance. The largest of the world’s six football confederations, Africa has a total of 53 votes at the FIFA election.

“I deeply regret it but attending the gala of the FIFA Ballon d’Or taking place in the evening of Monday 11th in Zurich, the flight connections will not enable me to be amongst you. And I do not have a private jet to arrive on time!,” he said in the letter, seen by INSIDER, in a dig at Prince Ali.

Champagne stressed his commitment to developing African football and restoring FIFA’s tarnished credibility.

Specifically, he pointed to how his presidency of FIFA would benefit the sport in Africa, promising a sixth slot for the continent in the 32-team FIFA World Cup; doubling FAP for the 100 FAs in the world with the lowest annual budgets and “that will clearly benefit your region”; 400 artificial fields to be built in four years around the world; and creation of a “professional football division” inside FIFA whose aims would include league/club support programs.

Champagne tells INSIDER he will be flying to Antigua for meetings with Caribbean football officials at the end of the week.

Disgraced Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have confirmed they are appealing their eight-year bans.

FIFA’s ethics judge on Saturday provided written reasons behind the sanctions handed down in December. They can now appeal to the FIFA Appeals Committee. If as likely FIFA upholds their bans, the pair will take their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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