A planned televised debate between FIFA presidential candidates is in turmoil after two attendees pulled out.
The forum was scheduled to be held at the European Parliament on Wednesday, but a live television broadcast has been cancelled after Prince Ali bin al-Hussein and Tokyo Sexwale withdrew on Monday.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa had previously confirmed he would not attend, while Gianni Infantino only submitted a video presentation, leaving Jerome Champagne as the only candidate scheduled to take part.
Damian Collins, co-founder of NewFIFANow who helped organise the event, was annoyed by the late withdrawals and feels it is damaging to the governing body’s supposed desire for greater transparency amid ongoing corruption investigations.
“We are merely trying to put legitimate questions about the future of FIFA to Presidential candidates as members of various parliaments as well as on behalf of fans and other key stakeholders,” he said in a NewFIFANow statement.
“Any organisation interested in, or committed to, democracy, transparency and accountability would understand this, as should the people who want to be FIFA President.
“We are just seeing the same old FIFA at play and they have learned nothing about what they need to do to try to rebuild trust and credibility from the broader community.
“Rather than helping to rebuild FIFA’s credibility in the broader community, this outcome will just add to the impression that people at FIFA do not want open discussion about the future and reform of the organisation.
“Why don’t the FIFA Presidential candidates want to be subject to the same level of questioning and scrutiny that would be normal in any organisation run on democratic principles?”
The statement quoted a letter from Prince Ali to Collins in which he disclosed he had been advised the forum “may well constitute a breach of FIFA election rules”, adding his understanding that either Sheikh Salman or Infantino had “made a complaint to the Ad Hoc Electoral Committee” on the basis of political interference.
The debate is scheduled be streamed online, with Champagne acting as the keynote speaker.
FIFA’s presidential election is set to take place on February 26.
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