This year has seen a huge number of people decide to run against Sepp Blatter for the presidency of FIFA, but can any of them actually win?
As the organisation is going through a series of scandals, the timing seems perfect for someone to swoop in and take the position from the incumbent president Sepp Blatter, but things are a bit more complicated than that. The real issue is can any of these candidates actually beat the embattled president in an election? The Man Cave takes a look at who's who on the day that nominations for the campaign close.
Champagne's campaign has been based around reform in FIFA and has been paid for out of his own pocket. He has a specific plan for what he wants to do should he win the election, and while that is what a lot of people want to see, it may actually count against him, as those back Blatter already are unlikely to really want to rock the boat.
Champagne has been finding it difficult to get the necessary five associations to back him in order to run, something which was changed by the FIFA executive committee back in 2013 with an eye to the upcoming elections. Speaking to Second Captains early last year about what he has in mind for FIFA should he be able to win, he chose to focus on a changing the processes and the whole instituion, but his close connections to the current regime (having previously served alongside Blatter as deputy secretary general) and the fact that he is still good friends with Blatter himself have meant that a lot of people view him quite sceptically. He is unlikely to make a significant challenge to Blatter, but with all his experience as a diplomat, he may well yet be able to shake the right hands and convince people of his legitimacy.
The former Newcastle midfielder's candidacy is unlikely to get much further than the publicity stunt press conference that he had a few weeks ago when he announced that he was running, as he neither has the backing of the necessary number of associations, nor the experience in football to meet the requirements to run for office. While he's gotten plenty of attention, being a media personality as he is through his work as a TV pundit, his campaign is being backed by a gambling association, which means he is not allowed to run according to FIFA's laws. This may shock you, but it could turn out that Paddy Power just did this for the publicity...
The 42-year-old former Real Madrid and Barcelona footballer has captured the imagination by joining the race late,and would be a hugely popular choice amongst most football fans. Unlike Ginola he does have the backing of five associations, as well as the requisite experience having worked with the Portuguese national team and Inter Milan in recent years, but he comes as a bit of a surprise package, given the fact that he announced his intention to stand just this week.
However, he has clearly been hard at work behind the scenes and by all accounts has a pretty good contacts book. He is universally liked, and the key to the election will be in breaking the block of votes that Blatter has from Africa, South America and the smaller nations. If Figo's status as a recent superstar of the game can do anything, it might get people to open their doors to him and listen to what he has to say, which so far has been all good. He told CNN that he wants to run because of the bad reputation that FIFA has, and how he hopes he can change that. "If you search FIFA on the internet, you see the first word that comes out: 'scandal.' Not positive words. It's something that we have to change first and try to improve the image of FIFA. Football deserves much better than this". Can he win? That remains to be seen, but he may be the one who pushes Blatter closest.
Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein
Not well liked within his own association, Al-Hussein's candidacy is hard to define. He too is running on a ballot of reform, but there is no doubting his experience in the governance of the game. He is FIFA's vice-president for Asia, president of the West Asian Football Federation, as well as vice president of the Asian Football Confederation, but while he is president of Jordan's football association, even they aren't backing him, which seems a little strange.
He is the man that is being pushed to the forefront by UEFA President Michel Platini, and he has been one of the most vocal Blatter critics as a result. A lot of the anti-Blatter camp are hoping that he can overthrow the incumbent, but that seems extremely unlikely, given that he looks as though he will be unable to change the minds of any of the associations who already vote for Blatter to lend him their support.
Michael van Praag
Less of a profile than some of the other candidates, he is the head of the Dutch FA, and announced recently that he would be running, but his candidacy in the race may only serve to split the votes of those who want to see Blatter out. Obviously, that's not great news, as between himself and Champagne there are two potentially very good presidents, but now with the addition of Luis Figo to the mix, there may be too many pretenders to the crown.
He has a fantastic footballing pedigree and was in charge at Ajax during some of the club's best years, something which he believes makes him an ideal fit for the role. His plan is to normalise and modernise FIFA, and he knows how to do it: "In my business life and also in Ajax and also in my association, I went through this exercise many, many times so I have a lot of experience in that respect. So I believe I'm the right person to do it. Few people still take FIFA seriously and, however you look at it, Blatter is mainly responsible". Can he actually win? Probably not, as he doesn't have the name recognition in what is an increasingly crowded field.