And then there was one ...
January 25, 2016
The forum with FIFA Presidential candidates scheduled to be held in the European Parliament building on Wednesday will now have only one candidate after the withdrawal today of Prince Ali and Tokyo Sexwale.
The remaining participant is Jerome Champagne. Gianni Infantino has also provided a video presentation for the occasion.
Prince Ali advised the joint organisers, the European Parliament's Sports Intergroup and campaign group #NewFIFANow, earlier today that he would not attend. Sexwale withdrew at the end of the day after he was informed of Prince Ali's withdrawal.
Writing to Marc Tarabella MEP, Chairman of the Sports Intergroup and #NewFIFANow co-founder Damian Collins MP, Prince Ali said that he had been advised that the forum "may well constitute a breach of FIFA election rules."
Prince Ali added that he understood one of the two candidates previously not participating – either Gianni Infantino or Shaikh Salman – had "made a complaint to the Ad Hoc Electoral Committee" on the basis of political interference.
But according to Damian Collins it's ridiculous to assert that an informal debate taking place in the European Parliament, which has no executive powers relating to sport, constitutes political interference in football.
"We are merely trying to put legitimate questions about the future of FIFA to Presidential candidates as members of various parliaments as well as on behalf of fans and other key stakeholders.
"Any organisation interested in, or committed to, democracy, transparency and accountability would understand this as should the people who want to be FIFA President.
"We are just seeing the same old FIFA at play and they have learned nothing about what they need to do to try to rebuild trust and credibility from the broader community."
Mr Collins said he had written to the Chairman of FIFA's Ad hoc Electoral Committee, Domenico Scala, seeking clarification on whether there is any reason why candidates would not be allowed to participate in our debate at the European Parliament if they want to do so.
"Rather than helping to rebuild FIFA's credibility in the broader community, this outcome will just add to the impression that people at FIFA do not want open discussion about the future and reform of the organisation," Mr Collins said.
"Why don't the FIFA Presidential candidates want to be subject to the same level of questioning and scrutiny that would be normal in any organisation run on democratic principles?"
A live web stream will be available from the European Parliament, but ESPN has cancelled its live broadcast due to the withdrawals.
Mr Champagne will be the keynote speaker. Other speakers will include MEPs and #NewFIFANow.