Here's everything you need to know about today's Fifa election and the 5 candidates

One man will be voted in to replace Sepp Blatter as the head of world football’s governing body in Zurich.

Candidates Sheikh Salman and Gianni Infantino.
Candidates Sheikh Salman and Gianni Infantino.

FIFA’S NATIONAL FEDERATIONS will gather at its Extraordinary Congress in Zurich today to elect the new president of world football’s governing body.

Front-runners Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa and Gianni Infantino, along with Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Jerome Champagne and Tokyo Sexwale are the men in contention to replace Sepp Blatter.

How the voting works

Each federation gets a single vote, to be cast in a secret ballot, and a candidate must secure two-thirds of the overall vote in the first round to be declared as the winner.

There are expected to be 207 votes up for grabs, with Kuwait and Indonesia currently barred from taking part due to breaching FIFA rules on government interference within national football bodies.

On Wednesday, FIFA’s Executive Committee recommended the Extraordinary Congress should decide to deal with both suspensions at May’s ordinary Congress in Mexico when it reviews Kuwait and Indonesia’s status before Friday’s vote.

In the event of a 207-nation vote, 138 is the magic number for candidates targeting a first-round victory.

If a two-thirds majority is not achieved in round one, a second round of voting will begin where a simple majority is needed to win – 104 backers if Kuwait and Indonesia remain suspended.

Should this prove elusive, the candidate with the fewest votes will drop out before a third round, with the process continuing in this fashion until one man has a simple majority.

The candidates

Gianni Infantino

FIFA Presidential Candidate Gianni Infantino Press Conference - Wembley Stadium Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

The UEFA secretary general was put forward by Europe’s governing body as an alternative to the banned Michel Platini, the 45-year-old receiving the unanimous backing of UEFA’s Executive Committee.

Infantino, who has worked at UEFA since 2000, confirmed his bid to replace Blatter on the submission deadline day.

Infantino crucially appears to have the support of football’s traditional European and South American heavyweights, but may need to secure votes from elsewhere, particularly the undeclared elements of CONCACAF, if he is to win.

Supporters: UEFA, CONMEBOL, Suriname, South Sudan, Trinidad and Tobago, Central American Football Union.

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa

Mideast FIFA Election Source: AP/Press Association Images

The president of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman has promised to self-fund his election bid entirely and says he will not take a salary should he be appointed FIFA president.

The 50-year-old, who is cousin to the King of Bahrain, has been accused by human rights groups of helping to identify athletes involved in pro-democracy protests in 2011, after which some national team players were arrested and allegedly tortured.

Sheikh Salman, however, has branded the accusations “false, nasty lies”. Fellow candidate Prince Ali bin al-Hussein was a former supporter of Sheikh Salman prior to the latter’s election as AFC president.

Supporters: AFC, CAF. Reported to enjoy some support within UEFA.

 Prince Ali bin al-Hussein

Soccer FIFA Election Source: AP/Press Association Images

Prince Ali has been FIFA vice-president for Asia since 2011 and ran against Blatter during the previous election in May 2015.

Having taken the ballot to a second round of voting, Prince Ali then withdrew his candidacy, which handed victory to Blatter – although four days later the Swiss announced his intention to resign as FIFA plunged further into crisis in the wake of dramatic anti-corruption arrests.

Prince Ali is the president of the Jordan Football Association, and has vowed to lead reform within FIFA and restore the governing body’s reputation. He has provided transparent voting booths for the election and gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in attempt to enforce their use.

Supporters: Liberia, Iraq, Palestine, Egypt, Malta. Expected to have other AFC supporters voting against the wider confederation.

Jerome Champagne

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Belgium EU FIFA Source: AP/Press Association Images

A former advisor to Blatter, Champagne planned to run in the 2015 elections but failed to achieve the backing of the minimum five associations and was forced to withdraw.

During his 11 years with FIFA, Champagne also held the role of director of international relations, before leaving the governing body in 2010.

Champagne, while notably opting not to condemn former president Blatter, has pledged to introduce “the highest standard of transparency and ethics” if elected.

Supporters: Claims to have the backing of at least eight unnamed national federations/associations. Has received public endorsements from high-profile current and former players, including Pele.

Tokyo Sexwale

Mideast Israel Palestinians FIFA Election Source: AP/Press Association Images

Full name Mosima Gabriel Sexwale, the 62-year-old is a former anti-apartheid activist who spent 13 years in prison on Robben Island alongside – among others – former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Sexwale was key to South Africa winning the right to host the World Cup in 2010 but went public with his concerns over an alleged payment of $10million, which US prosecutors have claimed was used to win votes. Sexwale has never faced any accusations of wrongdoing relating to the bid.

A millionaire mining tycoon, Tokyo – so called due to a love of karate as a youth – is a leading anti-racism campaigner and even became a media personality as the central figure on South Africa’s version of reality TV series The Apprentice.

Supporters: Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe. Not being the preferred candidate of his own confederation appears to make Sexwale’s bid a non-starter.

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