Football

FIFA is set to name a new president.

Greg Dyke keen to see FIFA escape the shackles of Sepp Blatter

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FIFA are set to vote in its first new president since 1998, with Football Association chairman Greg Dyke warning the world governing body cannot be allowed to regenerate into another Sepp Blatter-style cult.

Five candidates are running to succeed Blatter, who was voted in on five occasions, including last May, and made their final pitches to delegates at confederation meetings in Zurich on Thursday.

Blatter stepped aside days later amid allegations which led to a six-year ban which he is contesting, prompting the world governing body's extraordinary congress in the most pivotal period of FIFA's near-112 year history.

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Jordan's Prince Ali bin al Hussein, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain, UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale and Jerome Champagne, a former FIFA deputy secretary general from France are vying for 207 votes from FIFA's member associations (Kuwait and Indonesia are suspended).

All expressed confidence of securing victory, but Asian Football Confederation boss Sheikh Salman is the favourite to become FIFA's first new president since 1998.

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Dyke compared his first FIFA congress in 2014 to North Korea's despotic regime and hopes that is behind the world governing body.

"What I meant about North Korea was the cult of Blatter," said Dyke, who has declared the FA will support Infantino.

"That's what made it like North Korea, where one (delegate) after the other stood up and said what a wonderful man he was. That was pretty depressing.

"Dare I make the prediction that if Mr Blatter was standing this time, he might well win. That's because a lot of people in football don't get it.

"The cult of Blatter is no more. What we've got to make sure is the cult of someone else doesn't replace him. We don't want cults any more. We want a properly-run organisation.

"What I think will change is you will no longer have an all-powerful president who will be able to dish largesse around the world in exchange for votes."

FIFA has urged its members to adopt wide-scale reforms ahead of the presidential vote. The reforms separate political power from management positions and require 75 per cent of votes in favour to be approved.

The reforms are to be voted on as a package ahead of the presidential vote, but disputed elements can be extracted and discussed separately.

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Dyke believes their adoption in full is more important than the choice of president.

He said: "Presidents come and go. We're behind the reform programme. And if that didn't go through (on Friday), that's a bigger crisis."

The reforms see the 24-seat executive committee disbanded and replaced by a 36-seat council, with the president's influence reduced and an appointed secretary general, approved by council, charged with delivering the day to day operations.

The reforms were proposed after Blatter's 17-year reign came to an end in abrupt fashion as part of FBI and Swiss criminal investigations into corruption in football.

Former FIFA president Blatter and UEFA chief Michel Platini last week had their appeal hearings after being punished in December over a 2million Swiss francs (£1.3million) "disloyal payment" made to the Frenchman, approved by Blatter.

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The pair's suspensions from all football-related activity were reduced from eight to six years on Wednesday in recognition of their services to the game, but both deny wrongdoing and neither is satisfied by the appeal verdict. Both plan to take their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Law enforcement officials were yet to make any intervention in the lead-up to Friday's election, although their investigations continue.

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