Soccer UEFA's Infantino to bid for FIFA presidency

"We are delighted that Gianni has agreed to stand and he knows that he has our full support in his campaign to become FIFA President," said UEFA in a statement.

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UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino arrives for a news conference on behalf of their suspended president Michel Platini following a meeting of UEFA's executive committee at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, October 15, 2015. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse play UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino arrives for a news conference on behalf of their suspended president Michel Platini following a meeting of UEFA's executive committee at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, October 15, 2015. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
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UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino has agreed to stand as a candidate for the FIFA presidency, European soccer's governing body said on Monday, adding that he had its full support.

The announcement came on deadline day for candidates to register their nominations for the election of soccer's crisis-torn governing body which will take place in Zurich on Feb. 26.

FIFA, the governing body for world soccer, is embroiled in the worst scandal of its 111-year history, the United States having indicted several FIFA officials for bribery, money laundering and wire fraud in May.

Swiss authorities are also investigating the decision to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

Earlier this month, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini, who had been favourite to succeed him, were suspended for 90 days pending a full investigation by FIFA's Ethics Committee.

"We are delighted that Gianni has agreed to stand and he knows that he has our full support in his campaign to become FIFA President," said UEFA in a statement.

"He is in the process of submitting the required nominations and will issue a statement on his candidacy later today."

"We believe that Gianni Infantino has all of the qualities required to tackle the major challenges ahead and to lead the organisation on a path of reform to restore FIFA's integrity and credibility."

A multilingual lawyer, shaven-headed Infantino joined UEFA in 2000 and has been general secretary since 2009.

He has overseen the implementation of the complicated and controversial Financial Fair Play policy, a break-even rule which clubs are required to meet before they can take part in European competition.

Devised to stop rich owners buying success by splurging on top players, it also forces smaller clubs to sell stars to bigger rivals to balance their books.

But there has been criticism, including from Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, that the rules are too complex.

UEFA's announcement came amid uncertainty over how many candidates would be able to run, especially because of the rule which requires them to have the written backing of five national football associations (FAs).

Platini has also registered, but his chances are slim because of the investigation against him.

 

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On Saturday, South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale, a former Apartheid-era political prisoner turned businessman, announced he would stand.

Former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder David Nakhid says he has submitted his papers to FIFA, along with former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne and Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.

On Sunday, the Bahrain News Agency reported that the Asian Football Confederation president, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, had also entered the race.

Liberia's Musa Bility has said he wants to run. His chances suffered a setback when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) refused to back him, but on Monday the BBC reported that he had the five nominations necessary to stand.

Former Brazil international Zico has been campaigning but has admitted he is struggling to get the backing of five FAs.

Another candidate, South Korea's Chung Mong-Joon, pulled out of the race on Monday. A scion of South Korea's Hyundai industrial conglomerate, Chung was banned from the sport for six years by FIFA, after an investigation into the decision to award the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Qatar.

"Even though I can no longer stand for FIFA President, there is much left for me to do," Chung said. "I will continue to work with all those who love football to bring about legitimate changes from within FIFA."

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