Blatter v Bin Hammam for FIFA Presidency

Mohamed Bin Hammam, President of the Asian Football Confederation, has announced that he will stand against incumbent Sepp Blatter in the election for the FIFA Presidency on 1 June. It promises to be a high profile campaign.

As a long-serving member of the FIFA Executive Committee, Bin Hammam is hardly an outsider but his challenge to Blatter, who has run FIFA since 1998, looks set to drive deep divisions within the organisation in the weeks leading up to the vote. There is also time for further candidates to emerge before the deadline at the end of the month.

The campaign is likely to generate much more attention than the most recent competitive election in 2002 (Blatter was unopposed in 2007), with extensive international media coverage already. See, for example the BBC, Al-Jazeera English, and Xinhua. With 208 Member Associations around the world eligible to vote it is one of the most global elections.

Driving positive PR coverage will be an important objective for the candidates as they seek to generate momentum because many of the member associations will want to be seen to back the winner.  Bin Hammam has set out in his manifesto his ambition to expand the Executive Committee and decentralise FIFA. Blatter may explain his programme at the UEFA Congress in Paris next week.

This is the first major election to lead a sports governing body since the advent of social media so it will be interesting to see to what extent the candidates engage with audiences online. Although it is member associations rather than the public who vote, popular support can only benefit candidates whereas widespread negative comment online could be damaging. You can follow both candidates on Twitter (Bin Hammam /  Sepp Blatter) and Bin Hammam on Facebook.

Commentators such as Andrew Warshaw and Keir Radnedge suggest that Blatter will be difficult to unseat but a lot can happen in 10 weeks. Expect plenty of lively debate before the election.

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