May 21, 2015

ZURICH (AP) Sepp Blatter would certainly argue that being president of FIFA is the best job in sports. Becoming FIFA president is one of the hardest.

On May 29, soccer's world governing body will hold only its fourth contested presidential election in the past 50 years.

Only three men have led FIFA in that time, and only eight have occupied the president's office in its 111-year history.

One candidate is trying to stop Blatter from extending his 17-year reign at the top: Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan. Two other candidates, Luis Figo of Portugal and Michael van Praag of the Netherlands, pulled out on May 21.

Here is a look at the previous FIFA elections:

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1974

Joao Havelange of Brazil beat Stanley Rous of England 68-52 in the second round of voting in Frankfurt, Germany. By FIFA election rules, Havelange's 62-56 first-round lead was not decisive.

After 13 years of Rous as president, Havelange wooed voters outside Europe by promising more places at the World Cup and increased FIFA funding.

Victory for the imperious Havelange heralded a new era, driven by key FIFA sponsors like Adidas and Coca-Cola.

Gone was the Rous style of gentlemen amateurs leading with a sense of civic duty. It was swept aside by aggressive commercialism in a soon-to-be booming sports marketing industry.

Havelange faced no election challengers during his 24-year presidency. Now 99 years old, he resigned as FIFA honorary president in 2013 ahead of being stripped of the honor for taking millions of dollars in kickbacks from World Cup marketing deals in the ISL scandal.

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1998

Sepp Blatter beat Lennart Johansson of Sweden 111-80 in the first round of voting in Paris. Though Blatter, then the long-time FIFA secretary general, did not have the required majority, UEFA President Johansson conceded by declining to contest a second round. The election is remembered for allegations that Blatter supporters from the Middle East offered some African voters $50,000 to switch sides on the eve of the vote.

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2002

Blatter beat Issa Hayatou of Cameroon 139-56 in Seoul, South Korea. Blatter retained his presidency during a period of bitter internal turmoil and financial crisis at FIFA after the collapse of World Cup marketing agency ISL the previous year.

Hayatou, the Confederation of African Football president, and Johansson led an 11-member group in the FIFA executive committee accusing Blatter of financial mismanagement. Blatter's successor as secretary general, Michel Zen-Ruffinen, filed a criminal complaint against his boss with Swiss prosecutors. After Blatter's big victory - with support even from many African voters - Zen-Ruffinen left FIFA and the criminal complaint came to nothing.

Hayatou is now a FIFA senior vice president, closely allied with Blatter and would become interim president if the position was vacated.

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2007

Blatter ran unopposed for re-election in Zurich.

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2011

Again, Blatter was unopposed in Zurich but it was a very different story. He had been challenged by former ally Mohamed bin Hammam, the Asian Football Confederation president from Qatar, who was a key campaigner in Blatter's 1998 and 2002 wins. Bin Hammam declared his candidacy months after helping persuade his executive committee colleagues to pick Qatar as 2022 World Cup host.

Days before what looked to be a tight vote, Bin Hammam withdrew and FIFA suspended him over accusations that Caribbean voters were offered $40,000 bribes. An attempt by England to postpone Blatter's ''coronation'' election failed.

Blatter was the only name on the ballot paper and needed just a single valid vote to win. He got 186 of the 203 votes cast.

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