ESPN wants to bring the race to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA’s president from back rooms to center stage.
ESPN has invited the five candidates running for FIFA president to participate in a live debate, Sporting Intelligence reported Tuesday. The debate would take place Jan. 29, 2016, in London, and ESPN presumably would broadcast it to a global audience.
“Our goal is to provide a forum for an open, transparent discussion about the future governance of the sport in advance of the election that will determine who occupies the most powerful position in global football,” an ESPN spokesperson said Tuesday in an email to Reuters, according to Sporting Intelligence.
Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, Tokyo Sexwale, Gianni Infantino and Jerome Champagne are in contention for the presidency of FIFA.
The election will take place Feb. 26 at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.
Champagne told Sporting Intelligence he’d like to participate in the debate, but he doubts how much influence it will have on the member federations, which elect the president.
“I can tell you that ESPN proposed to the candidates a televised debate in London on 29 January, and I have already expressed my agreement,” Champagne said. “I feel that unfortunately — as I have said already when I launched this campaign myself — that it will be a succession of deals done behind closed doors of five-star hotels.”
Blatter has held FIFA’s top job since 1998, but he announced in June he’d step down in order to allow the scandal-ridden body a chance to pick a new leader.
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