The Republican and Democratic primaries?
Small theater compared to the FIFA presidential election.
Sepp Blatter, the scandal-bruised head of soccer’s corruption-stained international governing body, is stepping aside this winter. He said he will not seek re-election, though suspicions linger about his running again. If he did, Blatter would continue receiving support from many countries that have benefited during his 17-year reign.
In the aftermath of arrests, indictments and investigations this summer, FIFA has called an extraordinary congress Feb. 26 in Zurich to elect a new leader.
The deadline for candidates to submit formal papers is Oct. 26. To get onto the ballot, one must have the support of five member nations.
The early favorite is Michel Platini, 60, the former French superstar who has headed the European confederation for eight years and engaged in an increasingly bitter feud with Blatter. Earlier this year, UEFA’s opposition to Blatter led to suggestions that it withdraw from FIFA altogether.
The nastiness is growing.
On Saturday, German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported that a dossier entitled “Platini – Skeleton in the Closet,” was being distributed to European media outlets from FIFA’s Zurich headquarters. UEFA asked FIFA to investigate.
Separately, in an interview with Dutch newspaper Volkskrant, Blatter said there was an “anti-FIFA virus in Nyon”, the Swiss city where UEFA is based.
Other potential FIFA candidates range from former players and coaches to current and former FIFA figures: South Korea’s Chung Mong Joon, who served on FIFA’s executive committee and helped his country land a share of the 2002 World Cup hosting rights with Japan; Jordan’s Prince Ali Bin al-Hussein, who lost to Blatter in the May election; Liberian official Musa Bility; South African political activist Tokyo Sexwale; and legendary players Diego Maradona and Zico.
The latest individual to express interest is an American University graduate, David Nakhid. The Trinidad and Tobago native was a midfielder on the 1985 AU squad that lost to UCLA in the longest NCAA match in history, an eight-overtime affair at the Seattle Kingdome, won by the Bruins, 1-0.
Nakhid’s son, Panos, is entering his junior season at AU.
Nakhid, 51, played professionally in Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, Lebanon, Trinidad and Tobago, MLS (New England Revolution), Sweden and the United Arab Emirates over a 15-year career. He was also a national team midfielder and assistant coach. Currently, he operates a soccer academy in Beirut.
Nakhid is attempting to rally support in the Caribbean, which makes up 25 of the 35 representatives in CONCACAF, the regional governing body. He was scheduled to address the Caribbean executive committee over the weekend.
Large or small, serious or indifferent about soccer, all FIFA members wield equal power in presidential elections. Consequently, the Caribbean block carries weight, though it’s hard to imagine Nakhid receiving much support elsewhere.
“For too long, we in the [Caribbean union] have been the handmaidens in CONCACAF,” he wrote on his Facebook campaign page. “The Caribbean must use its majority voting power to positively impact good corporate governance and serious development in football from the grassroots levels to the elite, within our region and in the wider global governing body.”
Neymar was named to Brazil’s 24-man squad for two friendlies in the United States next month, even though the Barcelona star is recovering from mumps and isn’t eligible for World Cup qualifiers in October because of a red card at Copa America. Whether he will play remains unclear.
Brazil will face Costa Rica on Sept. 5 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., and the United States on Sept. 8 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.
The roster also includes three players from Paris Saint-Germain (David Luiz, Marquinhos and Lucas), three from Chelsea (Willian, Oscar and Ramirez), Manchester City’s Fernandinho and Orlando City’s Kaka. …
Frisco, Tex., and Houston will host the eight-nation CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying tournament, Feb. 10-21. The United States and Canada are favored to earn the berths to Rio de Janeiro. …
John Harkes, former U.S. national team and D.C. United captain, was named head coach of FC Cincinnati, a USL third-division expansion club launching next season. … Gedion Zelalem, the 18-year-old Arsenal prospect from Bethesda, scored in the 85th minute as the Gunners’ under-21 squad defeated Fulham, 1-0. … Loudoun Soccer defender Sam Golan, who as a sophomore this year helped Langley win a Virginia state championship, left school to join Brighton’s under-18 program in England.
By the Numbers
Goals by Sporting Kansas City after the 80th minute in defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps, 4-3