(WFI) Tokyo Sexwale’s campaign chief tells INSIDER the South African is not pulling out of the FIFA presidential race.
Rumours have grown in recent days that Sexwale may drop out of the five-man contest after a low-key campaign that has limped along and failed to make any impact on FIFA’s 209 voting federations.
“That’s not correct,” Sexwale’s spokesman told INSIDER.
“I don’t know where that comes from. It’s just rumours. He is not pulling out.”
Nevertheless, Sexwale could yet be forced out of the FIFA contest before the week is out.
On Tuesday, Sexwale will appear before the South African FA’s executive committee to explain the direction of his lacklustre campaign. There is a possibility, football leaders may ask him to step aside.
“They want to be updated and see if they can give support,” Sexwale’s campaign manager said.
The Confederation of African Football will meet in Kigali on Feb. 5 to decide which candidate to support – and it is unlikely to be Sexwale.
His spokesman told INSIDER that Sexwale returned to South Africa from Qatar on Monday. He was in Doha to attend the AFC U-23 championship final on Saturday along with the rival candidates Gianni Infantino, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein and Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, the Asian Football Confederation leader. Jerome Champagne was not present.
INSIDER is told that Sexwale is not expected to meet with CAF boss Issa Hayatou before Feb. 5, an indication that the interim FIFA president and his executive is not about to throw Africa’s support his way.
Asked if Sexwale might consider forging alliances in the run-up to the Feb 26 FIFA election in Zurich, as he hinted at last week, his spokesman said: “All the candidates are talking to each other.”
Sheikh Salman suggested on Sunday that only he or Infantino could win the race to replace disgraced Sepp Blatter. “I think Gianni has the support of the (UEFA) confederation and I think Asia has its candidate. From what I hear, from what I feel, I think it’s between me and him,” he was quoted by AFP news agency.
“I am confident and optimistic and I can see that things are improving day by day. From my point of view things are more than good.” Salman did not rule out a deal between himself and the UEFA general secretary, although last week Infantino’s camp told INSIDER he had no interest in such an alliance and was fighting to win the contest.
Prince Ali remains confident he can upset the frontrunner Salman, a bitter rival in Asian football politics.
Asked if he would consider striking a deal with another FIFA candidate, he told INSIDER: “I am running because I want to see meaningful change and have no interest in any backroom deals to maintain the status quo.”
The South African FA issued a statement on Sunday, denying that it was staging emergency talks with Sexwale on Tuesday. In a statement, SAFA revealed that Sexwale had not presented an update on his campaign to the ruling body of South African football since he launched his bid in October “as a result of his commitments related to his campaign.
“SAFA therefore reiterates its position that the meeting with Mr Sexwale was called merely to receive an update on the next steps in his campaign and to determine what further engagement he requires from the Association and not to convey a decision of the NEC on the viability or otherwise of Mr Sexwale’s candidacy, as some media reports indicate,” says SAFA CEO Dennis Mumble.
By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson
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