South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale has become the latest man to throw his hat into the ring of candidates to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president. A successor is to be elected early next year.
The 62-year-old Sexwale told a press conference in Johannesburg on Saturday that he would submit his candidature papers to FIFA in time to make Monday's deadline.
Sexwale is a diamond mining tycoon and former politician, who gained notoriety for fighting Apartheid, South Africa's former system of white minority rule. He was imprisoned on Robben Island off of Cape Town for 13 years, spending part of his time behind bars with the late Nelson Mandela. During that time, he became a close confidante of Mandela, the anti-Apartheid leader who went on to become South Africa's first black president and win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Sexwale declared his candidacy shortly after the South African Football Association (SAFA) announced via Twitter that it fully supported his bid.
The list of candidates seeking the job is now five names long. Sexwale jonis Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder David Nakhid, ex-FIFA official Jerome Champagne and UEFA President Michel Platini in the application process.
Until recently, Platini had been seen as the favorite, but his chances have taken a severe blow after he wassuspended for 90 days along with the current president, Blatter, pending a FIFA Ethics Committee investigation into a two million Swiss francs ($2.04 million) payment by soccer's ruling body to the former France midfielder in 2011.
The Ethics Committee has said that Platini would not be able to meet the Monday deadline due to his ban and that any attempt by a candidate to register at a later date, after a ban expired, would be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The vote to elect a new FIFA president is scheduled for February 26.
pfd/jh (AFP, AP, Reuters)