Posted: Monday April 4, 2011 9:58AM ; Updated: Monday April 4, 2011 9:58AM

FIFA confirms two-horse race for president

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ZURICH (Reuters) -- Mohamed Bin Hammam will be the only challenger for the FIFA presidency when incumbent Sepp Blatter stands for re-election on June 1, soccer's world governing body confirmed on Monday.

FIFA said that Swiss Blatter, who has been president since 1998 and will be trying for a fourth term, and Qatari multi-millionaire businessman Bin Hammam were the only candidates to register by the April 1 deadline.

The election will be held on June 1 at the FIFA Congress in Zurich where each one of the 208 member national associations holds a vote, provided they are not suspended at the time.

There had been two other possible candidates but U.S. journalist Grant Wahl said he failed to get the written support of one national football association, which candidates must have, and former Chile captain Elias Figueroa pulled out last Thursday.

Figueroa, one of South America's most respected footballers, was representing a group called Change FIFA but said he did not have enough time from which to launch a creditable platform.

Blatter, FIFA's eighth president since the organisation was founded in 1904, joined as a technical officer in 1975 and was general secretary from 1981 to 1998 under the presidency of Joao Havelange.

In 1998 he swept to a 111-80 victory over Swede Lennart Johansson, the UEFA president, who conceded defeat, forgoing a second ballot.

Four years later, Blatter took a landslide 139-56 vote victory over Cameroon's Issa Hayatou, the president of the African confederation, and, if anything, his grip on FIFA has tightened since then.

There were no opponents when he was re-elected in 2007.

Under Blatter's leadership, FIFA took the World Cup to Africa for the first time, holding what was widely seen as a successful tournament in South Africa.

Bin Hammam, 61, is also a candidate from within FIFA, having been a member of the powerful executive committee since 1996.

Although he was not part of the bidding team, he played a huge role in securing Qatar the rights to stage the 2022 World Cup finals in December.

A former Blatter ally, he helped the Swiss win the elections in 1998 and 2002 but has been increasingly critical of Blatter's leadership, saying that change is needed at the top and FIFA needs a new figurehead.

FIFA have confirmed that Bosnia and Brunei are the only two associations currently suspended.

Copyright 2011 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

 
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