Sepp Blatter and Prince Ali are presidential candidates

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Fifa’s 209 member associations will vote to elect a new president on Friday with the crisis engulfing football’s governing body hanging over it.

Jordanian Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, 39, is standing against 79-year-old Swiss Sepp Blatter, who has been president since of Fifa since 1998.

The vote takes place after bribery and racketeering charges were laid against top Fifa officials by US prosecutors.

Blatter resisted calls to resign led by Uefa president Michel Platini.

Instead Blatter, who is seeking a fifth term of office at world football’s governing body, promised to restore trust in Fifa and “find a way to fix things”.

Opening a meeting of Fifa’s annual congress in Zurich on Thursday on the eve of the presidential election, he said: “These are unprecedented and difficult times for Fifa.

“It must fall to me to uphold responsibility for the well-being of the organisation.”

Blatter has condemned the “action of individuals” for bringing “shame and humiliation” on football in the corruption scandal.

But he said that although many held him “ultimately responsible” for the football community, he could “not monitor everyone all of the time”.

Swiss authorities have launched a second investigation into the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively.

How does the voting work?

Before the voting is opened, the candidates will have the opportunity to speak for 15 minutes to present their programme.

Each of Fifa’s 209 member national associations gets one vote – so the likes of footballing minnows American Samoa have just as much of a say as nations such as England.

It is a paper vote rather than an electronic one and the member associations cast their votes by secret ballot, in alphabetical order.

In the first round, a candidate needs to get two-thirds of the vote to be declared the winner – if the vote is closer than that, a second round of voting is held, where a simple majority is enough.

So the winning candidate would need 105 votes in the second round, if every member casts a valid vote, to win.

Fifa’s secretary general Jerome Valcke, assisted by a number of scrutineers, will be charge of the conduct distribution and counting of the ballot papers.

Fifa’s rules point out that if it receives more ballot papers than there are members, the election will be declared void and re-run.

 

Is it possible to abstain?

Yes – and six members did so during the last Fifa presidential election in 2011 – one of them was England’s Football Association (FA).

It did so after Blatter’s only rival, Mohammed bin Hammam, pulled out days before the election after being suspended over bribery allegations.

Blatter was re-elected after receiving 186 of the 203 votes cast.

The last four Fifa presidential elections

2011: Blatter was unopposed because his rival Mohamed Bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Federation, pulled out after being suspended over bribery allegations.

2007: No other candidate was put forward to challenge Blatter.

2002: Blatter saw off the challenge of Issa Hayatou, president of the African confederation Caf.

1998: The Swiss succeeded Joao Havelange and won a bitter election against former Uefa president Lennart Johansson.

 

What happened to the other candidates?

Originally there were five potential candidates to stand against Blatter in the election.

Ex-Tottenham and Newcastle midfielder David Ginola, backed by a betting company, announced in January his intention to stand.

But the 48-year-old Frenchman withdrew two weeks later having failed to secure the backing of five football associations, a requirement for standing in the election.

Ginola’s compatriot and former diplomat Jerome Champagne, who worked for Fifa for 11 years as an executive before leaving in 2010, revealed last September he planned to challenge Blatter.

Champagne, 56, failed to win enough support in his bid to unseat Blatter and pulled out at the beginning of February.

Former Portugal midfielder Luis Figo, 42, joined the race in January and secured enough support to stand as a legitimate candidate against Blatter.

Like Figo, Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) president Michael van Praag, 67, was also a viable candidate for the election after he gained the necessary support of five national associations.

However, both Figo and Van Praag pulled out of the running on the same day last week as to not split the anti-Blatter vote, which left Prince Ali as the only rival.

 

We know about Blatter, but who is Prince Ali?

Prince Ali, the son of the late King Hussein and the late Queen Alia, attended Sandhurst military academy in England before joining his country’s armed forces.

He is the brother-in-law of leading racehorse owner Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai. Prince Ali successfully championed the lifting of Fifa’s ban on the hijab – the veil worn by Muslims – in women’s football.

Prince Ali is head of the West Asian Football Federation and was one of a number of officials who called for the publication of ethics investigator Michael Garcia’s report into allegations of corruption surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

Prince Ali said: “It is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport. The headlines should be about football, not about Fifa.”

 

How will the election unfold?

Blatter has been publicly backed by the football confederations of Asia (AFC) and Africa (Caf), which means that most of their member nations are expected to vote for him.

Prince Ali is the favoured candidate of European confederation Uefa, so he is likely to pick up most of the European votes. Platini believes “45 or 46” from 54 European members could back him.

It is not quite so clear where the votes from the North American (Concacaf) and South American (Conmebol) confederations will go.

In the past these regions have been loyal to Blatter but there are suggestions that at least some of their member nations will back Prince Ali, especially in light of the recent scandals. Prince Ali himself is said to believe he has the support of 60 nations outside Europe.

FA chairman Greg Dyke has already called on Blatter to go while Football Association of Ireland chief executive John Delaney says the president should step down for “the good of the game”.

Scottish FA chief executive Stewart Regan claims Prince Ali is the “only credible candidate”, while Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford says “change is needed in Fifa” ahead of the vote.

The bookmakers currently make Blatter the 1/2 favourite, with Ali’s chances rated at 13/8.

 

What happens if Blatter wins?

The BBC has learned that Uefa could call for an extraordinary general meeting of Fifa’s congress if Blatter is victorious.

If 20% of members agree with the motion, the meeting would have to be held within three months – and a motion of no confidence would almost certainly be put forward.

Uefa did not want the vote to go ahead because it risked turning it into “a farce”, although they decided not to boycott the congress.

That is not to say a wholesale Uefa boycott of Fifa or its tournaments could not happen further down the line. “All of these things have been discussed,” Stewart Regan told BBC Radio Scotland.

FA vice-chairman David Gill also says he will resign from Fifa’s executive committee if Blatter is re-elected.

It seems unlikely that either Russia or Qatar will be stripped of the World Cups, though.

Despite Fifa’s numerous attempts to prove the bidding process was fair, rumours persist that not everything was above board – and the Swiss investigation into the bidding process has only added to those suspicions.

However, Fifa is adamant there will be no re-run of the bidding process, and that position would be unlikely to change should Blatter stay in power.

He has powerful allies in this regard. Russian president Vladimir Putin is a supporter of Blatter and has accused the US of overstepping its authority, suggesting the arrests were part of an attempt to take the 2018 World Cup away from his country.