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Here Are The Likely Contenders For The Next President Of FIFA

Sepp Blatter, the president of the embattled world soccer organization, resigned in June, setting up a special election for his successor.

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Longtime FIFA President Sepp Blatter stunned the soccer world on June 2 when he announced he was resigning in the midst of a massive corruption scandal.

Blatter, 79, had just won re-election to his position four days earlier, on May 29.

The announcement came after U.S. authorities arrested nine FIFA officials and five corporate executives on corruption charges on May 27.

The U.S. also revealed that four other people and two corporations had already pleaded guilty to related charges.

At a news conference in Switzerland, Blatter said that he will create an "extraordinary congress" to pick the next leader of the soccer organization. The election will likely be late this year or early next year.

Here are the likely contenders for the next president of FIFA:

David Nakhid, the former pro-soccer midfielder who spent more than a decade on the Trinidad and Tobago national team, announced his candidacy for FIFA president Tuesday on Rogers Radio in Antigua, where he was on a tour to drum up support.

"We're looking at the Caribbean, and we're seeing a certain vacuum of leadership…so we've been looking at that over the last few months, and we feel now is the time for someone to step up from this part of the world, in a positive light — very much different than what has been before — and carry us forward," Nakhid, 51, said.

Asked by radio host Julian Roger if he was putting himself up to lead world football, Nakhid responded: "Most definitely."

He said it was time to shift FIFA from its Euro-centric focus to the Caribbean, which currently has an "underdeveloped infrastructure" and a real need to solidify its membership.

Michel Platini

Ruben Sprich / Reuters

Following Blatter's resignation, Michel Platini was quickly made the favorite to be the next FIFA president with British bookmaker William Hill.

Platini — a legendary French player who is regarded as one of the greatest of all time — is the president of UEFA — the governing body for European football which oversees the world's most lucrative international club tournament, the Champions League. He has held the position since 2007.

Platini was once close to Blatter, with the Swiss even supporting the Frenchman as his future replacement in 2012. However, he more recently became one of the most prominent names calling for his removal from office. On Blatter's decision to quit, Platini said: “It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision.”

However, Platini may find it difficult to distance himself from the fact he voted for the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid should he attempt to position himself as a change candidate.

Platini officially announced his candidacy to succeed Blatter on July 29.

"There are times in life when you have to take your destiny into your own hands," he said. "I am at one of those decisive moments, at a juncture in my life and in events that are shaping the future of FIFA."

Prince Ali bin Hussein

Dave Thompson / Getty Images

Prince Ali of Jordan is perhaps the most obvious candidate because he was the only person who ran against Blatter in last week's election.

Soon after Blatter announced his resignation, a Jordanian official told AFP that the prince is "ready" to run again. The official added that the prince will also be up to the task should FIFA ask him to assume the presidency immediately.

"Prince Ali is ready to take over as FIFA head at any moment, should they ask him," the official said.

The Jordanian prince had the support of the U.S. and the Canadian soccer federations, but Blatter beat him 133–73 in the first round of voting. Ali withdrew his nomination from the second round.

Ali told CNN on Tuesday that Blatter's resignation was the "right move."

"At the end of the day we have to salvage FIFA and we have to bring it back to where it should be," he said.

Ali is fifth in line to the Jordanian throne and currently serves as the vice president of FIFA for Asia.

David Ginola

Alastair Grant / AP

Ginola, a French former soccer player, announced shortly after Blatter's resignation that he would seek to become FIFA president.

The 48-year-old announced his intentions on LBC.

Ginola had attempted to run against Blatter this year, but failed to get the required backing of five football associations to qualify, the BBC reported.

He also came under scrutiny after revelations that he was being paid by a booking firm to compete in the race, with some people speculating that his bid was a publicity stunt.

The head of the firm denied it was a stunt to the BBC, saying they were just trying to help Ginola build a "credible platform."

After he failed in his first bid, Ginola said he hoped his ideas for reform would still be heard.

"There is disappointment, anger but there is also hope," he told the BBC. "I'm very proud of my campaign and the policies I proposed to reform football."

Luis Figo

Leonhard Foeger / Reuters

Figo has not said if he plans to run in the special election, but he had recently thrown his hat in the ring.

The 42-year-old Portuguese former soccer star had been a candidate in this year's race until he withdrew shortly before the election.

In a post on Facebook, Figo said he had withdrawn from the race because the election was a "plebiscite for the delivery of absolute power to one man," presumably Blatter.

"I do not fear the ballot box, but I will not go along with nor will I give my consent to a process which will end on May 29 and from which soccer will not emerge the winner," he wrote.

Since then, Figo has been critical of Blatter and FIFA on social media and has called for reform.

After Blatter announced his resignation, Figo said he was celebrating the move as a positive step forward.

"A good day for FIFA and for football," he wrote. "Change is finally coming. I said on Friday that the day would come sooner or later. Here it is! Now we should, responsibly and calmly, find a consensual solution worldwide in order to start new era of dynamism, transparency and democracy in FIFA."

Chung Mong-Joon

Ed Jones / Getty Images

The South Korean politician and businessman is one of Asia's most prominent football administrators, having headed the country's soccer association and served as one of FIFA's vice-presidents.

On Wednesday, the day after Blatter's resignation, Chung said at a press conference in Seoul that "many people" had been asking whether he would seek to run as Blatter's replacement, and that he would, "carefully think about it before making a decision on whether to participate in the FIFA presidency election," AP reported.

He added that he planned to meet with global soccer figures and gather their opinions.

Before losing his seat in 2011, Chung served as a FIFA vice-president for 17 years. He is also a controlling shareholder of Hyundai.

Michael Van Praag

Ruben Sprich / Reuters

The head of the Royal Dutch Football Association was one of Blatter's initial challengers for the FIFA presidency, but pulled out to throw his support behind Prince Ali on May 21.

The 67-year-old had pledged to hold the presidency for a single four year term, during which he hoped to modernize FIFA and improve its transparency.

On Tuesday, Van Praag hailed Blatter's decision to step down, tweeting that it "may be a very big step in the right direction."

I wanted change for the FIFA and this may be a very big step in the right direction. Let's truly accomplish #footballforeveryone.

However, it's not yet clear if he'll run again. He told Dutch media: "I am going to first of all meet with different parties in Berlin (at the executive board meeting of UEFA — the football governing body for Europe — which takes place on Saturday). Then I will be able to clarify my plans."

The Brazilian soccer legend — who represented his country in three World Cups — suggested he may be up for running for the FIFA presidency in a post on his official Facebook account. It was written in Portuguese, but the English translation reads:

"Why not? Football is my life — a passion which I always took seriously both in Brazil and in other countries. I thought about it while having dinner with Sandra. My wife and kids support me. I was once Brazil's Sports Minister, I have got club experience and support in Japan. I put football above politics. I still don't have official support but if the position is open, I could announce my candidacy. It's still just an idea, but who knows."

Zico is a hugely respected figure in international soccer, having managed clubs in Japan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Russia, Greece and Qatar, as well as the Japan and Iraq national teams. He is currently in charge of FC Goa in India's Super League.

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