CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Tokyo Sexwale’s bid to become FIFA president was doomed as soon as his own confederation refused to back him, South African Football Association head Danny Jordaan said of his compatriot’s failed attempt to lead soccer’s governing body.
Businessman Sexwale pulled out of the race, won by UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino, just before voting started on Feb. 26 and Jordaan believes his chances were dashed when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) opted to back rival Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
CAF handed their endorsement to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president at an executive meeting in Rwanda last month, shortly after the Bahraini royal had signed a lucrative co-operation agreement between CAF and the AFC.
“I was at the CAF meeting in Rwanda where Tokyo was present,” Jordaan told South Africa’s Eye Witness News.
”He had a meeting with the CAF executive and I think that there are things that they put to him there as to why they found it difficult to support him.
”When we left Kigali, it was clear that CAF was not going to support him.
“Jerome Champagne had no endorsement from any continent and neither did Prince Ali and Tokyo, so it was always going to be tough for those candidates who must compete against candidates who actually have two continents endorsing them.”
Jordaan, however, believes FIFA has been strengthened by the election of Infantino.
“The reporting lines are clear, the governance of FIFA is strengthened, transparency has been strengthened,” he added.
“So on the plus side, he comes into a new environment for organizing, managing and controlling world football but he’s a person that has, I think, significant experience to steer FIFA into calmer waters.”
Jordaan did not attend the presidential election in Zurich, citing a busy schedule in his duties as mayor of the South African coastal city of Port Elizabeth.
Germany’s Kicker magazine, however, alleged he stayed away for fear of possible arrest in the investigation into a $10 million bribe allegedly paid to former CONCACAF president Jack Warner to secure hosting rights for the 2010 World Cup.
Jordaan headed South Africa’s bid committee, which has also been implicated in the U.S. court case against several football officials over alleged bribery in the bidding campaign for the 2010 tournament.
Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by John O'Brien