African football won’t support Bility’s FIFA president bid

GENEVA (AP) — FIFA presidential hopeful Musa Bility of Liberia has failed to get the support of his fellow African football leaders.

The Confederation of African Football said its executive committee heard Bility’s campaign pitch at a meeting in Cairo on Thursday and decided against supporting him to succeed Sepp Blatter.

Bility was rejected unanimously after a meeting “full of sincerity and warmth” and having been wished good luck, CAF said in a statement.

The Liberia football federation president declared his intentions on June 18 without apparent encouragement from CAF President Issa Hayatou.

“If Africa doesn’t put up a candidate it says a lot about us,” Bility said then. He later added he would step aside if Hayatou entered the race.

The CAF statement, which was issued after an executive meeting in Cairo, made no mention of possible contenders from Africa or elsewhere it might support.

Hayatou, the FIFA senior vice president from Cameroon, lost to Blatter in 2002 and has not suggested he would run again in the Feb. 26 ballot.

South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale, a member of FIFA’s discrimination task force, has been tipped as a possible candidate. Sexwale was promoted by Blatter in May to broker better relations between the Israeli and Palestinian football bodies.

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UEFA President Michel Platini is the current front-runner after declaring his intention to stand one week ago. UEFA has cited support for Platini from other regions, though not from Africa.

The 54 CAF member federations have traditionally been mostly loyal to Blatter, including in his 133-73 win over Prince Ali bin al-Hussein in May.

The Jordanian prince has been considering a second challenge for the presidency.

CAF said Thursday that its executive committee wants time to study all options.

The panel will next meet on Oct. 27, the day after FIFA’s deadline for applications. Contenders need to be nominated by five of FIFA’s 209 member federations to be considered as candidates.

Regarding FIFA reforms, the African body nominated its two members of an 11-strong task force Blatter announced last month would oversee proposed changes to help rebuild the scandal-hit governing body’s reputation.

The nominees, Hany Abo Rida of Egypt and Constant Omari of Congo, are both members of FIFA’s much-discredited executive committee.

Their selection is unlikely to impress World Cup sponsors such as Coca-Cola and Visa which have asked FIFA to appoint a truly independent reform commission with “eminent” leaders from outside football.

A third sponsor, McDonald’s, added to its recent criticism of FIFA by joining calls Thursday for independent oversight.

“An independent commission would bring an appropriate level of credibility, transparency, and neutrality to the role,” the company said in a statement released by the NewFIFANow campaign group.

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The task force already has a tight schedule to propose ideas to FIFA’s executive committee meeting on Sept. 24-25 in Zurich. Changes must be voted on by FIFA members at the election congress in Zurich.

FIFA said Thursday that appointing a leader and members of the task force was a “work in progress.”.

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