January 25, 2016 / 1:55 PM / 3 years ago

Sexwale asked to explain lackluster FIFA campaign

CAPE TOWN, Jan 25 (Reuters) - FIFA presidential candidate Tokyo Sexwale has been called to appear before the South African Football Association (SAFA) to answer questions about a lackluster election campaign, SAFA said on Monday.

Tokyo Sexwale, chairman of the FIFA Monitoring Committee Israel-Palestine, gestures during a news conference with Israel Football Association president Ofer Eini (not seen) and Jibril Al Rajoub (not seen), President of the Palestinian Football Association, in the West Bank city of Jericho December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Plans for him to meet the association’s leadership on Monday were canceled, however, because Sexwale is overseas, SAFA spokesman Dominic Chimhavi told Reuters.

SAFA wants him to explain his campaign tactics and progress after backing his bid for the presidency and helping him obtain the five nominations he needed to stand in the Feb. 26 ballot to replace Sepp Blatter.

The billionaire businessman, who is not a formal SAFA member, has made little impact, failing to get an endorsement from the Confederation of African Football despite being the only African in the five-man race.

This contrasts with Asian support for their president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain and UEFA’s backing of the Swiss Gianni Infantino.

“The NEC (National Executive Committee), which is the highest decision-making body of the association, made a resolution at its meeting at the weekend that they want to engage with him to find out how his campaign is going and what he thinks his chances are,” Chimhavi said on Monday.

“There were concerns about his low-profile campaign and they want him to come and explain himself.”

The 62-year-old Sexwale is in Qatar before going to Brussels on Wednesday to attend a meeting of the New FIFA Now pressure group.

Sexwale is a former political prisoner jailed alongside Nelson Mandela and served as Premier of Gauteng province, South Africa’s economic heartland, and later as a cabinet minister in South Africa. He also proved successful in mining and other businesses.

His association with Mandela has failed to earn him credibility with FIFA member associations, however, and his election manifesto, which offered few ideas on how to change the corruption-haunted FIFA, did him no favors either.

Its main point was an offer to lift a ban on sponsorship appearing on national team shirts to allow associations to increase revenue.

Sexwale, invited to serve on FIFA’s anti-racism and anti-discrimination committee by Blatter, was a member of South Africa’s 2010 World Cup organizing committee.

Earlier this month he expressed his support for the now banned FIFA president.

“I feel very sorry for (Blatter). I don’t say he was a friend but he is a friend... Blatter’s work is a monument that stands for itself,” Sexwale told reporters.

Frenchman Jerome Champagne and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan are the other FIFA presidential candidates.

Reporting by Mark Gleeson; Editing by Ed Osmond

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