Musa Bility is the second faller in the FIFA election race; the head of the Liberian football federation has failed the integrity checks for contenders and been excluded from the panel of five cleared to campaign.
An extraordinary congress of the world governing body has been scheduled for February 26 in Zurich to pick a successor to suspended, ailing Sepp Blatter who ‘laid down his mandate’ within four days of being re-elected for a fifth term last May.
The surviving quintet are:
• Prince Ali Al Hussein (Jordan)
• Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa (Bahrain)
• Jérôme Champagne (France)
• Gianni Infantino (Switzerland)
• Tokyo Sexwale (South Africa)
David Nakhid, the former Trinidad & Tobago international, had submitted a candidature but was excluded from even integrity consideration because he lacked the five essential nominations from national associations. One of his backers, the US Virgin Islands, had already indicated support for another contender.
Bility will be disappointed. The 48-year-old was a surprise contender in the first place and had been snubbed by the executive committee of the African confederation when he sought its support.
CAF president Issa Hayatou, the key figure in rejecting Bility’s claim, has since taken over as FIFA’s interim president in the wake of the criminal investigation and independent ethics investigation which led to the suspension of Blatter.
However, Bility had ‘baggage’ after having been suspended by CAF for six months in 2013 for what was described as “improper handling of confidential documents.” He still has the option of appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Human rights groups will be disappointed that the Asian confederation president, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, has been approved because of the controversy over his alleged role in selecting Bahrain players for punishment after the pro-democracy protests in 2011.
Sheikh Salman has always denied the allegations and the electoral committee may have considered that those issues fell outside its ‘fit and proper persons’ regulations.
One missing name is that of Michel Platini, the French president of the European governing body UEFA. He is currently under a 90-day provisional suspension pending an ethics investigation into allegations that he accepted a ‘disloyal payment’ from Blatter’s FIFA in 2011.
The electoral committee has confirmed that Platini submitted his nominations before the deadline and before his suspension and that he could be admitted to the race if he clears his name in time.