FIFA — the scandal-plagued world governing body for soccer — will choose the man who will succeed suspended President Sepp Blatter at an extraordinary congress in Zurich, Switzerland, on Friday.
In a meeting of its electoral committee in November, FIFA admitted and declared the candidacies of five people: Jordan's Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Bahrain's Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, France's Jérôme Champagne, Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino, and South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale.
All candidates had to go through an "integrity check" before they were approved to run, FIFA said.
Sexwale was the first casualty of the voting process, withdrawing his candidacy before the first round, announcing "my campaign is suspended as of now" as he was wrapping up what was supposed to be his final pitch to congress delegates before votes were cast.
You can watch a live stream of the Congress here:
Ahead of the vote for the new president, FIFA delegates passed a series of reforms aimed at cleaning up football's world governing body, with 89 percent voting in favor.
The reforms include terms limits for the new president, disclosure of salaries, the introduction of a new FIFA council, the promotion of women in the sport, the enshrinement of human rights, and the separation of political and managerial functions.
Voting on the presidency began early Friday afternoon local time, and is expected to last several rounds, with the winner unlikely to be announced before 5.30 p.m. GMT (12.30 p.m. ET), according to the BBC.
Here's what you need to know about the men in the running for the role.
Prince Ali bin al-Hussein
Prince Ali — a member of Jordan's royal family — is president of his country's soccer association, and holds the vice-presidency of FIFA for Asia.
He has a close resemblance to his late father — King Hussein — and his mother, Queen Alia, died in a helicopter accident when he was young. He graduated from the U.K.'s prestigious Sandhurst military training academy, before moving onto Princeton, according to The Guardian.
He challenged Sepp Blatter in the 79-year-old Swiss's ultimately successful bid to be re-elected FIFA president in May, but withdrew from the running in the second round of voting with Blatter comfortably ahead.
He was one of the first to announce his candidacy to replace Blatter in September, and wrote a letter to FIFA member associations talking up his credentials as a soccer federation chief, and saying that individual associations should not be caught up in the scandal in FIFA's leadership. He has positioned himself as a reformist candidate.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa
Another Middle Eastern royal, Bahrain's Sheikh Salman has been the president of the Asian Football Confederation since 2013.
He goes into Friday's vote as the strong favorite, according to the Associated Press' sources at FIFA.
He announced his candidacy last month in a statement, and said his presidential bid would be entirely self-financed.
In an interview with the BBC, Sheikh Salman said he would work for free, and would introduce limits of three terms of a total of 12 years for FIFA presidents. He also supports keeping the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar respectively.
However, human rights groups have slammed his candidacy, accusing him of playing a role in the brutal suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations in Bahrain in 2011, citing claims that he was involved in identifying athletes linked to the demonstrations against his family's regime, The Guardian reported.
Human Rights Watch's Nicholas McGheehan told the BBC last month: "This is a royal family that conducted a brutal crackdown in 2011, when security forces shot unarmed people dead in the street and tortured five people to death in custody."
"There are clear issues about Sheikh Salman's role in 2011," McGheehan said. "This is a lot worse than bungs and brown envelopes."
Sheikh Salman angrily dismissed the claims, calling them "nasty lies" that are damaging to Bahrain and its people.
France's Jérôme Champagne switched from a diplomatic career to sports administration around the time of the 1998 World Cup, which was held in his homeland.
He was a member of FIFA's executive from 1999 to 2010, and served as its director of international relations. He quit the organization suddenly after 11 years, following an apparent power struggle with Michel Platini.
He initially tried to run in the presidential election held in May, but did not receive the required backing from national associations. He announced his candidacy again last month, telling the Associated Press his campaign is "an exciting mission."
He issued a seven-page manifesto to all of FIFA's member federations, calling for greater transparency, more projects to develop the sport in poorer nations, and a reduction in the number of European teams at the World Cup.
Following the downfall of Michel Platini, Europe's soccer governing body UEFA decided it would put its own candidate forward in the form of its Swiss-Italian general secretary Gianni Infantino, just hours before the deadline.
In a statement announcing his candidacy, UEFA said Infantino "has a proven track record as a top-class administrator and built positive relations with football stakeholders around the globe" and recognizes "the need for change and renewed development at FIFA."
Infantino has been with UEFA since 2000, and held the role of general secretary since 2009.
Last month, Infantino said his manifesto "will be based on the need for reform and also for a Fifa that genuinely serves the interests of all 209 national associations, big or small, and that puts football and football development at the top of its agenda," the BBC reported.
South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale is a 62-year-old former anti-apartheid activist who spent time in prison on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela.
Since then he has become a highly successful businessman, earning an estimated fortune of nearly $200 million through his interests in mining and energy, according to The Guardian. He's also been the host of the South African version of The Apprentice and held cabinet positions in the South African government.
Sexwale was on the organizing committee for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and has also mediated on behalf of FIFA in a dispute between the soccer federations of Israel and the Palestinian territories, ESPN reported.
He announced he was suspending his candidacy moments before the voting began on Friday afternoon, and also he had become a father three days ago, according to BBC sport.
Francis Whittaker is a homepage editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Francis Whittaker at email@example.com.
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