The Fifa presidential race is on. South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale is one of five candidates who will contest next year’s elections, which will be held in February. Although many consider Sexwale one of the outsiders, his manifesto does make for interesting reading. Not that anyone cares for manifestos in the wheeling and dealing world of Fifa elections, but it does give us some idea of what the candidates are all about.
Sexwale is one of the few candidates who have published a manifesto thus far. It makes for good reading, and you can find the six key points below. However, there are some crucial issues he has not addressed. Sexwale has not, for example, said whether he would agree to have his salary disclosed or whether he would be open the idea to non-executive directors on the executive committee. He does not address anti-corruption at all, a worrying oversight considering an avalanche of corruption is exactly what led to this sordid saga in the first place. He also did not mention how he would approach conflict of interest issues. Still, if you can gloss over a few typos – the Bernabéu, the home ground of Spanish football’s Real Madrid, was written as “Benebeau”, for example – Sexwale has some good ideas in this document:
He’s considering advertising on national team jerseys
Some consider this a slightly controversial point, but it’s simply keeping in line with modern day sport. Currently, advertising on jerseys is only allowed at club level, and it is not for international teams. Sexwale argues that allowing advertising on jerseys will help boost the coffers of associations. He states: “There is space there for much value worth millions of dollars which will be destined directly into FAs coffers!”
Yes, that is a direct quote, complete with the exclamation mark for emphasis on how exciting such a logical solution to boosting profits make him.
He vows to fight for more World Cup places for Africa
Despite having more members than any other Confederation, Africa only gets five spots at World Cups. Europe gets 13. Sexwale succinctly says: “After 111 years of its existence, FIFA needs to take a hard look, with sensitivity, at these imbalances – not in opposition to any grouping but in favour of football.”
The same goes for the lopsided figures of confederations at the executive committee. This is one of the smartest moves of his election. The general feeling in the footballing world is that Europeans has run the game for long enough. It might not enough to win him the election, but it does show that he is in touch with the lack of balance in power currently plaguing Fifa.
He makes a special mention for women’s football
You cannot really accuse Sexwale of paying lip service here since there are not exactly many women in powerful positions to woo. However, he does acknowledge the role women’s football play in the global scheme of things both on the field and in the boardroom, and says that he will “labour tireless” for the development of the women’s game. It’s quite a nice change from Dear Leader Sepp’s suggestion that “maybe women should play in tighter clothing”.
Vowing to continue the fight against trafficking
It is one of footballing’s issues that is not talked about nearly enough and yet, it is one of the most damning. The trafficking of young children under the pretences of turning them into “football stars” is a serious problem. The BBC has reported on the issue, revealing that children as young as 14 are being sent to Laos to play at unregistered academies. The clubs then aim to profit from the sale of the players when they get older, and investigators believe that this was just one of many cases. Fifa is seriously struggling to cope with the issue and has been silent on it for far too long. That Sexwale has acknowledged and highlighted it is a good thing: “Children, football’s grassroots, are future stars of the game and should be protected. Zero tolerance, in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, shall be undertaken against the abhorrent child trafficking practises for severe criminal action against perpetrators.”
Stamping out racism
No surprise here. Sexwale has served on Fifa’s anti-racism and anti-discrimination committees. Fifa’s approach towards racism has been underwhelming to say the least, so it’s no surprise that Sexwale is looking to ramp things up. He’s not entirely clear on the sanctions and fines he might impose on offenders, but does say what he has in mind to investigate and police matters better. Under his watch, the Anti-Racism Task Force will be elevated to a FIFA Standing Committee, chaired by one of the FIFA Vice Presidents along with himself.
Adding a personal touch
“Every FA’s President will have direct tele-contact with myself. They need not bang the door to see their own FIFA President on very serious matters,” Sexwale writes in his manifesto. It’s a nice touch indeed, but probably not the kind of thing that’s going to win him an election. DM
Photo: South African businessman and former political prisoner Tokyo Sexwale speaks during a media briefing at SAFA house in Johannesburg, October 27, 2015. Sexwale, who was a close friend of Nelson Mandela, said on Tuesday he wanted to repair the “severely undermined” FIFA brand as he confirmed he was standing for the presidency of world soccer’s governing body. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
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