The Latest: Kofi Annan ready to help reform FIFA

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Posted: Feb 25, 2016 6:31 PM
The Latest: Kofi Annan ready to help reform FIFA

ZURICH (AP) — The Latest on the FIFA presidential election (all times local):

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12:20 a.m.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan stands ready to help FIFA see through reforms.

Prince Ali of Jordan, one of five candidates standing to replace Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, said last week he invited Annan to lead an independent panel that would monitor the reform process.

Along with electing a new president, FIFA delegates will on Friday be asked to pass a package of measures designed to stamp out corruption within the organization.

A spokesman for Annan confirmed on Thursday the issue was discussed with Prince Ali.

Bijan Farnoudi told The Associated Press that "Mr. Annan did agree that in that event, should there be a desire to establish such an external oversight committee, that Mr. Annan would be available to chair that."

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11 p.m.

The Unites States will vote for Prince Ali of Jordan in the FIFA presidential election on Friday.

The former FIFA vice president says, "I am proud to receive the support of the USA, joining my vision for a new, transparent, fair, and honest FIFA that puts football first."

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9 p.m.

The South American football confederation, known as CONMEBOL, has confirmed its unanimous support for Gianni Infantino in the FIFA presidential election on Friday.

CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez says the 10 South American federations "will vote as one block for Infantino."

"Our position has always been firm. Gianni knows it, and the other candidates do, too. CONMEBOL thinks it can contribute to FIFA much more than what it's contributing now," Dominguez said after hearing presentations from Infantino and his main rival, Sheikh Salman of Bahrein, during the organization's general assembly on Thursday.

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7:25 p.m.

Senior German football officials have voiced concern at the possibility that Sheikh Salman might be elected FIFA president while questions remain over his role in a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain.

Sheikh Salman has repeatedly denied having any role in Bahraini footballers being identified and arrested during the 2011 crackdown by the government led by his family.

FIFA executive committee member Wolfgang Niersbach says the sheikh failed to address the subject during his campaign meeting with UEFA.

Niersbach said in Zurich on Thursday that if media reports about Sheikh Salman's role were accurate "then it's a very, very difficult situation to plan the future with a person at the top who, let me be cautious, may carry a burden."

His words were echoed by Reinhard Rauball, acting president of the German football federation (DFB), who said he was "disappointed" the sheikh hadn't responded to the human rights allegations raised by credible groups.

Niersbach, himself, faces ongoing scrutiny over claims of corruption concerning the awarding of the 2006 World Cup to Germany, prompting him to step down as DFB president in November.

Niersbach has retained his seat on the powerful FIFA executive committee though, where Sheikh Salman is also a member.

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5:20 p.m.

Sheikh Salman has been pledged nine votes from the East Asian Football Federation in Friday's FIFA presidential election.

Japan, South Korea, China, North Korea, Hong Kong, Guam, Taiwan, Macau and Mongolia say they will vote for the Bahraini in the five-man election.

The EAFF says it members unanimously agreed to endorse Sheikh Salman at a meeting on Thursday in Zurich.

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4:50 p.m.

Jerome Champagne has been told by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that it won't force FIFA to use transparent voting booths as an extra guarantee of privacy on Friday.

CAS says it dismissed Champagne's urgent request to use the booths, plus independent scrutineers.

The court says Champagne filed his appeal on Wednesday, the same day Prince Ali had his similar challenge rejected. The Jordanian prince had several see-through booths made and flown to Zurich airport, ready to be installed.

CAS says Champagne argued his appeal would "safeguard the integrity of the voting process and to ensure that the vote is conducted in secret."

FIFA has said it will prevent any voter from using a mobile phone or camera to photograph their completed ballot paper.

Champagne and Prince Ali claim voters are pressured to give visual proof of who they supported.

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4 p.m.

UEFA says revenue rose 21 percent to 2.099 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in 2014-15.

It is the first time UEFA has generated more than 2 billion euros in a year without a European Championship. UEFA's continuing financial status comes as its general secretary, Gianni Infantino, campaigns to be elected FIFA president on Friday.

More than 80 percent of UEFA's revenue comes from broadcasters, who paid 1.69 billion euros to screen matches, including the Champions League and Euro 2016 qualifiers.

UEFA has cash reserves of 530.7 million euros.

UEFA says "the weak euro against the positive dollar has a positive impact."

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3:40 p.m.

Many FIFA committees in recent years were a waste of time, says a member of the reform advisory group which wants 17 of them abolished on Friday.

Canadian official Victor Montagliani made the comment at a news conference when questioned about Sheikh Salman's earlier attempt to woo CONCACAF voters ahead of Friday's election.

The sheikh promised officials from 35 voting federations he would find ways to avoid cutting the number of committee places each has to attend expenses-paid meetings in Zurich.

The pledge to maintain voters' privileges and help educate them in soccer leadership seemed to endorse the kind of patronage FIFA was criticized for during Sepp Blatter's presidency.

Montagliani says "a lot" of FIFA committees "were under the masquerade of participation and giving people experience."

Before the presidential election Friday, voters will be asked to pass a slate of governance reforms to help fight corruption and cut costs. FIFA's current 26 standing committees would be cut to nine.

Montagliani, who is seeking to become CONCACAF president in May, says if the sheikh's intent is to "promote proper education ... then I am all for it."

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3:30 p.m.

UEFA vice president Angel Maria Villar has opened the extraordinary congress of European soccer's governing body by backing Michel Platini to get his FIFA ban overturned.

The congress is being held a day before Friday's FIFA presidential election. Platini was considered the favorite for the job before being banned.

The ban, stemming from a 2011 financial transaction with FIFA, was reduced from eight to six years by the appeal committee on Wednesday. But Platini is going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal against the FIFA verdict.

Villar, the de facto acting UEFA president, said through a translator that "Michel Platini continues to work to defend himself to defend his innocence and honor ... I firmly believe and hope Michel will be back with us soon."

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1:45 p.m.

The CONCACAF soccer body has unanimously passed a slate of reforms to help clean up its scandal-hit operations.

The 41 member federations from North America passed the changes for their regional body on Thursday, one day ahead of taking part in a similar FIFA vote that should oblige them to follow similarly higher standards at their own national level.

CONCACAF needed to act after three past presidents were indicted in the U.S. Department of Justice's sprawling bribery case in which the Miami-based governing body has risked losing its status as a victim.

In the meeting, U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati says "we have had lots of momentous occasions over the past 10 months. This is a positive one."

Among the reforms, CONCACAF will separate political and commercial decision-making and appoint independent outsiders to key committees.

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12:20 p.m.

Presidential front-runner Sheikh Salman tells voters in the CONCACAF region that he wants to keep their FIFA committee seat privileges in Zurich.

The Bahraini sheikh says he would create commissions to counter a proposed cut in the number of FIFA's permanent committees.

On Friday, FIFA member federations will vote to approve a reform package that will see 26 standing committees reduced to nine. FIFA wants to cut costs and be more efficient.

But Sheikh Salman tells 35 FIFA voters from CONCACAF that "I can promise you that the numbers won't change."

He says "I am sure that we need most of you around. It is an investment in the people we have in football."

During Sepp Blatter's presidency, FIFA was criticized for using committee seats as patronage to reward loyalty and favored officials.

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11:55 a.m.

Former presidential favorite Michel Platini says unelected bureaucrats "have taken control" of FIFA.

Platini tells French sports daily L'Equipe that "they are the ones who did everything to fire me."

On Thursday, Platini had his ban from the sport cut to six years. He is appealing again at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The case against Platini first stalled and then ended his campaign to succeed Sepp Blatter, whose ban was also cut to six years.

Platini questions, in extracts of an interview published Thursday, if "we want a FIFA that belongs to the elected or a FIFA run by bureaucrats?"

The suspended UEFA president says he has faith in Gianni Infantino, UEFA's top bureaucrat who is a candidate in the FIFA election on Friday.

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11:35 a.m.

The head of the committee that ruled on reducing the bans of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini to six years has declined to answer questions about his decision.

Larry Mussenden, the president of the Bermuda soccer association, says "I'm not going to talk about it."

Mussenden is also one of the candidates running for president of the North American soccer confederation. By becoming CONCACAF president, Mussenden would also become a FIFA vice president.

CONCACAF's last three presidents have been charged with corruption by American prosecutors: Jack Warner, Jeffrey Webb and Alfredo Hawit. Webb has pleaded guilty and Hawit not guilty. Warner is fighting extradition.

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11 a.m.

Candidates are making their final pitches to secure votes for Friday's election to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.

The first confederations meeting Thursday were the CONCACAF and Oceania regions.

Outsider Tokyo Sexwale, a former Robben Island political prisoner, says "I have come this far. I am used to obstacles."

The South African adds that "FIFA is a house broken and needs to be repaired" but stressed "football is not broken."

The favorite is Asian soccer confederation president Sheikh Salman. UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, former FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan and former FIFA official Jerome Champagne are also in the running.

Blatter decided to step down amid investigations into widespread wrongdoing in soccer.