Including Platini, FIFA accepts 7 in presidential race

GENEVA (AP) Seven men are in the running to replace Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, with Michel Platini’s candidature accepted but pending because of his suspension from soccer.

FIFA published the list of valid applications ”proposed in due time and form” on Wednesday. It did not include former Trinidad and Tobago player David Nakhid, who did not have the five required nominations.

The seven candidates for the Feb. 26 election are: Platini, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, Gianni Infantino, Tokyo Sexwale, Musa Bility, Jerome Champagne and Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa.

FIFA’s three-man election panel, led by audit committee chairman Domenico Scala, will announce next month which of the seven candidates have been officially accepted after integrity checks by the FIFA ethics committee.

Three of the candidates are from Europe, two are from Africa and two from Asia.

The Confederation of African Football declined to endorse either South African Sexwale or Bility of Liberia after four days of meetings ended Wednesday in Cairo.

CAF said in a statement that its executive committee, chaired by interim FIFA President Issa Hayatou, had ”plenty of time to decide, with the interest of the continent the primary objective.”

Four candidates – Prince Ali, Infantino, Sexwale and Sheikh Salman – met with CAF leaders in the past days, the statement said.

Platini had been due to visit Cairo before being suspended for 90 days this month by the FIFA ethics committee.

The UEFA president’s entry has been accepted pending the outcome of an investigation into financial wrongdoing.

”Given that Michel Platini is currently provisionally banned from taking part in any football-related activity, his candidature will not be processed by the ad-hoc electoral committee as long as such ban is valid and in force,” FIFA said in a statement.

Platini was the favorite until he and Blatter were questioned by Swiss federal police on Sept. 25 over a suspected ”disloyal payment” from FIFA in 2011. The UEFA president got about $2 million approved by Blatter as uncontracted salary for work he did as a presidential adviser at least nine years earlier.

Platini denies wrongdoing and is appealing against the suspension. Blatter was also banned for 90 days.

Platini’s right-hand man at UEFA, general secretary Infantino, entered the FIFA contest on Monday.

Nakhid was considered an outsider in the contest but the one most likely to bring a player’s perspective to the job. Although Nakhid had the five required nominations, he told The Associated Press that one of his backers – the US Virgin Islands – broke election rules by also supporting another candidate.

”In view of this, the (election) committee decided not to consider Mr. Nakhid’s application as it did not fulfil the required five declarations of support,” FIFA said in a statement.

AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in London contributed to this report.