FIFA asks election candidates for details of victory speeches
ZURICH (AP) — FIFA asked presidential candidates to provide details of their intended victory speeches ahead of Friday's election in a bid to keep them on message while the governing body tries to repair its scandal-tarnished image.
The five contenders, who are to meet at a FIFA gathering on Wednesday, have also been provided with suggested answers to use in the post-vote news conference.
FIFA's administration has brought in American lawyers and communications advisers while trying to preserve its victim status in U.S. criminal corruption investigations.
But Gianni Infantino, one of the men in the running to succeed Sepp Blatter as president, said he will resist any attempts by FIFA to control what he says if victorious on Friday.
"Everyone can propose whatever they want, I will say whatever I want," Infantino said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I am my own man. I have always been like this. I am presenting a program. I will have a speech.
"And if I am elected I will stand in front of all of you (media) ... without any fear and say what I think and what should be done for FIFA and for world football."
FIFA sees its request as necessary to ensure the new president protects the damaged institution and delivers key corporate messages that demonstrate the organization's commitment to reform.
"I am not troubled (by the request), I can even understand they want to organize everything in a Swiss-German way," Infantino said. "I know how to deal with these matters."
Infantino's main challenger in the vote of FIFA's 209 members is Asian soccer president Sheikh Salman of Bahrain. Former FIFA vice president Prince Ali of Jordan, former FIFA official Jerome Champagne and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale are also in the running.