South African Tokyo Sexwale pulls out of FIFA presidential race

Zurich, Feb 26 (IANS) Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa pulled out out of the FIFA presidential elections just before member associations of world football’s governing body were due to start voting here on Friday.

Tokyo, a minister in the South African government, was one of five candidates who were due to stand for elections to decide a successor to previous FIFA chief Sepp Blatter.

Blatter stepped down from the post last year following a corruption scandal which led to a massive outcry. He was later banned from football for six years.

“I suspend my participation. I leave only four people,” Tokyo told the Fifa congress.

“It’s your problem now,” the 62-year-old added, turning to the other candidates.

The withdrawal leaves four candidates — Gianni Infantino, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein and Jerome Champagne — in the race.

“No matter which candidate won, it would be a party. Of course, if it were me, it would be a greater party,” Tokyo remarked on a lighter note.

Tokyo was considered to be a rank outsider in the FIFA elections and did not have the backing of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The CAF had announced its support for Asian confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa last month.

A former prisoner in an anti-apartheid jail with Nelson Mandela, the South African had conducted a low-key campaign and there seemed to be a real chance that he might not win any of the 207 votes in the first round.

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