Next Wednesday (June 13), the FIFA Congress is due to convene in Moscow to decide the host of the 2026 FIFA World Cup.
The mood and process are very different from the last time the governing body of the world's richest sport picked the future stage - or in that case stages - for its flagship tournament seven-and-a-half years ago. It could hardly be otherwise given the woeful impact those deeply-flawed, simultaneous, races for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments have had on FIFA's image and reputation.
This time, there are only two candidates, but (barring the unexpected) an electorate of more than 200 - essentially one national member-association one vote, though it could be argued that the big continental confederation bosses will still be able to exert plenty of influence should they choose to do so.
Last time, there were no fewer than nine candidates, split between the two contests, and an electorate of just 22 - it should have been 24, but two Executive Committee members were banned from football, for one and three years respectively, just two weeks before the vote.
What has happened to these 22 men since that December day when they assembled in Zurich and collectively determined a big part of FIFA's destiny for the best part of a decade, assigning one of the great sports mega-events first to Russia and then Qatar? Here is a succinct run-down.
Hany Abo Rida (Egypt)
Abo Rida can claim to be the great survivor of the 2010 FIFA Executive Committee. The 64-year-old President of the Egyptian Football Association is the only one of the 22 men who took part in the voting to determine the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts who is still on the rebranded/expanded FIFA Council. He is no doubt hoping fervently that fellow countryman Mo Salah's recovery from the shoulder injury sustained in Liverpool's Champions League final defeat by Real Madrid will be completed in time to enable him to spearhead Egypt's attack in Russia.
Jacques Anouma (Côte d’Ivoire)
Anouma, 66, tried in late 2012 to challenge Issa Hayatou (see below) for the Presidency of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). The bid failed after the CAF Executive Committee ruled he was not eligible to stand. CAF had revised its statutes some months earlier restricting the right to run for the Presidency to CAF Executive Committee members. CAF's position was upheld in March 2013 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which ruled that the new CAF statutes were applicable and that Anouma had never been a CAF Executive Committee member. Last December, it was reported by African media that Anouma had been named as a mediator for the Presidents of both CAF (now Ahmad Ahmad) and FIFA (Gianni Infantino).
Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
Beckenbauer, an imperious defender in his playing days, was provisionally banned from football for 90 days as the 2014 World Cup in Brazil got under way. The move was attributed to an "apparent breach" of the FIFA Ethics Code relating to the 72 year-old's "failure to cooperate" with a FIFA Ethics Committee investigation "despite repeated requests for his assistance". The ban was lifted later the same month, however.
He was eventually sanctioned with a warning and a CHF 7,000 (£4,900/$7,000/€6,300) fine by the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's Ethics Committee. Just a month after imposition of that fine, FIFA's Ethics Committee opened formal proceedings against Beckenbauer and five other individuals "in the context of the 2006 World Cup host selection and its associated funding".
The German bid narrowly defeated the 2010 World Cup host South Africa in the 2006 race; Beckenbauer headed the Local Organising Committee. It also emerged in 2016 that Beckenbauer, who has always denied wrongdoing, was among those under investigation by Swiss federal prosecutors probing allegations of corruption linked to the 2006 bid. Beckenbauer was questioned in Berne by Swiss federal prosecutors in March 2017.
Joseph (Sepp) Blatter (Switzerland)
The 82-year-old former FIFA President has started to make his voice heard again in recent months, notably on behalf of Morocco in the 2026 World Cup race, and is expected to be in Russia for part of this year's tournament. A master politician, Blatter initially managed to secure re-election yet again to football's top job in May 2015, in spite of gathering storm clouds over FIFA and a dramatic dawn raid by Swiss police in Zurich two days before the vote.
The raid led to the arrest of a number of football officials and pitched the organisation into the worst crisis in its history. A few days later Blatter announced he proposed to lay down his mandate, leading eventually to Infantino's election as FIFA President in February 2016. In the meantime, Blatter had been banned from football activities over a CHF2 million (£1.5 million/$2 million/€1.8 million) payment made to Michel Platini (see below).
The money was said to be for work Platini did for FIFA between 1999 and 2002, but was paid only in February 2011. The ban was initially for eight years, but was reduced subsequently to six years from October 2015. Blatter has hinted at fresh developments in recent times, tweeting in February that "as new facts have appeared it's time to question the decision of the FIFA Ethics Committee = my suspension of six years!"
Chuck Blazer (USA) deceased
Blazer, who died last July after suffering from cancer, was an absolutely central figure in the corruption scandals that have so tarnished FIFA in recent times. Banning him for life from football in 2015, the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's Ethics Committee commented that this large, gregarious man had "committed many and various acts of misconduct continuously and repeatedly during his time as an official in different high-ranking and influential positions at FIFA and CONCACAF [the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football]".
He was, it went on, "a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance, payment and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, bribes and kickbacks as well as other money-making schemes". But Blazer also helped gather evidence for the FBI, bugging meetings with a wire device concealed in a key fob and working undercover with prosecutors in the United States after pleading guilty to charges of bribery, money laundering and tax evasion.
The American was one of no fewer than eight FIFA Executive Committee members of the 22 who participated in the December 2010 voting process, whose home country was vying to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. All 22 were free to vote in each round of both races, regardless of whether their home country was among the candidates.
Chung Mong Joon (South Korea)
The wealthy 66-year-old son of the founder of Hyundai lost any chance of succeeding Blatter as FIFA President in 2015 when he was banned from football activities for six years. This was after he was found guilty of infringing a number of articles of FIFA's Code of Ethics. CAS later said Chung was initially sanctioned by FIFA "due to improper lobbying activities in 2010 in connection with the Korean Football Association bid (KFA) for the 2022 FIFA World Cup".
Last February, CAS confirmed the violation by Chung of some rules of the FIFA Code of Ethics, but slashed his ban to just 15 months - less than he had already served. A cousin of Chung's - Chung Mong Gyu - is now a member of the FIFA Council and, it is thought, may launch a challenge for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Presidency in due course.
Şenes Erzik (Turkey)
The 75-year-old stepped down from the FIFA Council in 2017.
Julio Grondona (Argentina) deceased
President of the Argentina Football Association (AFA) from 1979 until his death in 2014, Grondona was a key figure in Blatter's FIFA, as chair of the governing body's Finance Committee. His name came up at a trial of football officials at the US District Court in Brooklyn last year, when the former chief executive of a sports-marketing company serving as a Government witness, testified that the Argentinian was paid at least $1 million (£760,000/€845,000) to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar 2022 have always denied any wrongdoing. Grondona's death came in the same month as Argentina's defeat by Germany in the 2014 World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro, which he witnessed. Since his passing, AFA has known comparatively turbulent times, including a tied Presidential election, scored 38-all despite only 75 officials being able to vote, and a period being run by a FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee.
Mohamed Bin Hammam (Qatar)
Bin Hammam, 69, a former AFC President, challenged Blatter for the FIFA Presidency in 2011. In the event, he withdrew his candidacy shortly before the scheduled voting date and was subsequently banned from football for life for breaching the FIFA Code of Ethics.
This ban was overturned by CAS the following year. The Court said it was "not convinced" that the Qatari "made monies available" to delegates attending a Caribbean Football Union meeting in May 2011 "for the purposes of inducing them to vote for him" in the election. CAS also served notice, however, that it did not "necessarily consider that this matter is concluded".
In December 2012, FIFA announced a second life ban, in a decision made public two days after Bin Hammam addressed a resignation letter to the governing body. FIFA said this life ban was based on the Garcia Report (officially titled the Report on the Inquiry into the 2018/2022 FIFA World Cup Bidding Process), which showed "repeated violations" of FIFA’s Code of Ethics between 2008 and 2011. Explaining his decision to resign, Bin Hammam said he did not want to "spend any more of my life fighting trumped up allegations", while underlining that "if further allegations are made I will, of course, defend myself in the same way that I did in the past".
Issa Hayatou (Cameroon)
The West African's long career in front-line sports administration in effect ended in March 2017, with defeat by Ahmad Ahmad in the CAF Presidential election. Hayatou had headed the African confederation since 1988. He had previously ceased to be a full International Olympic Committee (IOC) member at the end of 2016, on attaining the applicable age-limit.
The 71 year-old took over as acting FIFA President in October 2015 for the months running up to Infantino’s election. During this time he underwent a kidney transplant. Hayatou had challenged Blatter unsuccessfully for the FIFA Presidency in 2002 and is thought to have been the only Executive Committee member other than Geoff Thompson to have voted for England in the 2018 World Cup ballot.
Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium)
A doctor, D'Hooghe, 72, remains an active and respected chairman of FIFA’s Medical Committee, but stepped down from the Council in 2017. In 2015, the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's Ethics Committee cleared D’Hooghe after investigating a number of allegations in the context of its proceedings in relation to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding process.
In particular, the chamber said it was satisfied that a painting given to D’Hooghe by his friend Vyacheslav Koloskov, a well-known Russian sports official, had "no commercial value" and was offered as "a friendly gesture". D’Hooghe’s home nation Belgium was among bidders for the 2018 tournament, in partnership with The Netherlands.
Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus)
The 71-year-old Cypriot stepped down from both the FIFA Council and UEFA's Executive Committee in 2017. The Garcia report, published by FIFA last June following a leak, referred to an allegation to the effect that Qatar "carried out various transactions that benefited businesses and individuals linked to" Lefkaritis.
It concluded, however, that "at most, the evidence…shows a tenuous link between a company Mr Lefkaritis is affiliated with and a company with a 'Qatari interest'". The report went on: "Nothing in this record reflects any connection between the transactions highlighted in the allegations and the Qatar bid team or the bidding process generally. The investigatory chamber therefore finds no basis for further inquiry into this matter."
Nicolás Leoz (Paraguay)
The 89 year-old Leoz, who headed the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) for 27 years until 2013, is fighting extradition to the USA after being indicted by US justice authorities in May 2015. The Paraguayan was among 14 defendants charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies, among other offences.
He is reported to be under house arrest. Leoz resigned from his FIFA and CONMEBOL positions in 2013 for health and personal reasons. The resignation came just before publication of a FIFA Ethics Committee statement on an examination of ISL, a collapsed marketing partner of FIFA and other sports bodies, conducted by Michael Garcia of the Committee's investigatory chamber.
The statement said it was "certain that not inconsiderable amounts were channelled" to Leoz, former FIFA President João Havelange and Havelange’s son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira (see below), "whereby there is no indication that any form of service was given in return by them". These payments were "apparently made by front companies in order to cover up the true recipient and are to be qualified as "commissions", known today as "bribes". The report also says that acceptance of bribe money was "not punishable under Swiss criminal law at that time [between 1992 and 2000]". Leoz "claimed that all of the money he received from ISL was donated by him to a school project, but only in January 2008 - eight years after he received it". The Garcia Report into the 2018/2022 bidding process said, meanwhile, that there was a "prima facie case that Mr Leoz violated relevant ethics rules related to conduct and gifts", but added that since the Paraguayan had resigned from football and this was "the single example of such evidence found in the course of the inquiry, no further action is contemplated at this time".
Worawi Makudi (Thailand)
Makudi, 66, remained a FIFA Executive Committee member until 2015, which was also the year his Presidency of the Football Association of Thailand effectively came to an end. In July 2015, a Bangkok criminal court had found him guilty of electoral fraud, sentencing him to a suspended jail term of 16 months.
The following year, he suffered another setback, when handed a five-year ban from football activities by FIFA's Ethics Committee. The Committee's adjudicatory chamber made clear that its investigations were opened "following information that Mr Makudi had been convicted of forgery by the Southern Bangkok Criminal Court".
Thailand's Appeals Court overturned the forgery conviction in 2017, however, prompting an appeal of the FIFA ban. This has resulted in a reduction of the suspension to three-and-a-half years, i.e until 2020. FIFA's Appeal Committee said last month it "agreed with the principles and arguments presented by the adjudicatory chamber".
Vitaly Mutko (Russia)
Mutko, a Russian Deputy Prime Minister, was barred from continuing as a FIFA Council member in 2017 after the football body's Governance Committee decided FIFA's principles of political neutrality were incompatible with being a member of Government.
With the fallout from the Russian doping crisis continuing to overshadow sport, the 59-year-old’s ties with the sector have become increasingly tenuous in recent months, as the World Cup approaches. Last December, the IOC banned him from the Olympics for life. Since then, he has stepped down as head of the World Cup Organising Committee and been moved from sport to construction in a Government reshuffle.
He also stood down temporarily as President of the Russian Football Union, in order to fight his Olympic ban, though it has been reported recently that he is set to stay on in that role. There was no direct evidence linking Mutko - Sports Minister from 2008 to 2016 - with the doping scandal and he has always denied any involvement. The IOC’s Schmid Commission ruled, however, that “the then Minister of Sport has to bear the major part of the administrative responsibility”.
Junji Ogura (Japan)
Ogura, 79, stepped down as Japan Football Association President in 2012. He became the body’s Honorary President and then supreme advisor. Ogura was also appointed chairman of Japan’s FIFA Futsal World Cup 2020 Bid Committee and President of the Japan Futsal Federation.
Michel Platini (France)
The former UEFA President has re-emerged in combative mood in recent weeks, claiming he has been told he will not face any criminal charges related to the alleged "disloyal payment" which led to both him and Blatter being banned from football, and heaping criticism on FIFA's Ethics Committee. Once seen as Blatter’s heir apparent as FIFA boss, the 62 year-old former French captain, who formed part of one of the best midfield units in football history, remained as UEFA President until 2015.
He was initially suspended from all footballing activity for eight years, but this sanction was eventually halved. The Frenchman, who denies any wrongdoing, this year lodged a complaint with the European Court on human rights grounds and it is not inconceivable that he might yet be a factor in next year’s FIFA Presidential elections.
Platini has also faced allegations that he came under political pressure to vote for Qatar in the 2022 World Cup race, but has consistently maintained that he reached his decision independently. According to the Garcia Report, Platini said he "voted for Qatar only because he believed that vote served 'the best interest of football'".
Rafael Salguero (Guatemala)
The 71 year-old remained on FIFA’s Executive Committee until 2015. Later the same year, Salguero was among 16 current and former football officials charged in a superseding indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn, New York.
Ricardo Teixeira (Brazil)
A former long-time President of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF), Teixeira stepped down from all his prominent football positions in 2012. The following year, the FIFA Ethics Committee statement on ISL said it was "certain", as with Leoz, that "not inconsiderable amounts were channelled" to he and ex-FIFA President Havelange, and that these payments were to be "qualified as 'commissions', known today as 'bribes'". It was "clear", the report continued, "that Havelange and Teixeira, as football officials, should not have accepted any bribe money, and should have had to pay it back since the money was in connection with the exploitation of media rights".
Even so, the acceptance of bribe money was "not punishable under Swiss criminal law at that time". In December 2015, Teixeira, 70, was among the 16 new defendants indicted by US judicial authorities. They were charged with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. Teixeira, who denies wrongdoing, has not been extradited. The Garcia Report said that investigation proceedings would be opened against him. The Brazilian was one of a number of individuals against whom the FIFA Ethics Committee said in October 2015 that formal investigation proceedings relating to the suspicion of infringements of the FIFA Code of Ethics were "ongoing".
Geoff Thompson (England)
Football Association chairman between 1999 and 2008, Thompson remains listed as a member of FIFA’s Players’ Status Committee, along with the likes of Australia’s Moya Dodd and Jason Roberts of Grenada. Like Erzik, Lefkaritis and indeed Koloskov, the 72 year-old is among the 13 honorary members of UEFA, the European football body. According to the Garcia Report, Thompson was “the only member of the FIFA Executive Committee who admitted reaching an agreement to trade votes”.
He stated this occurred at a meeting involving then UK Prime Minister David Cameron and South Korean Executive Committee member Chung in Zurich not long before the vote. Cameron is said to have asked Chung to vote for England and Chung to have replied that he would if Thompson would vote for South Korea. “Mr Thompson, who said he had been thinking about voting for Korea even before the meeting with Mr Chung, agreed,” the report says. Chung, however, denied the allegation.
Ángel María Villar Llona (Spain)
The 68 year-old ex-Athletic Bilbao and Spain midfielder, who led the joint Spain-Portugal 2018 World Cup bid and headed the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) for three decades from 1988, has suffered a marked fall from grace since taking over from Platini as acting UEFA head in October 2015. A month later, FIFA's Ethics Committee imposed a warning and a CHF 25,000 (£16,000/$25,000/€23,000) fine on him for failing to "behave in accordance with the general rules of conduct applicable to football officials" in the context of investigations regarding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.
After withdrawing from the race to succeed Platini permanently in September 2016, Villar Llona suffered a hammer blow last July when he was arrested during an anti-corruption investigation. While denying all the allegations, he resigned from positions at UEFA and FIFA the same month and was suspended by RFEF. Luís Rubiales was finally elected to replace him as RFEF President last month.
Jack Warner (Trinidad and Tobago)
Warner, long-time President of CONCACAF, resigned from his international football posts in 2011. FIFA said Warner was leaving “by his own volition…having chosen to focus on his important work…as a Cabinet Minister". It said all Ethics Committee procedures against him had been “closed” and the presumption of innocence “maintained”. Four years later, however, the governing body’s Ethics Committee decided to ban Warner from football for life. The 75 year-old was found to have committed "many and various acts of misconduct continouously and repeatedly" and to have been “a key player in schemes involving the offer, acceptance and receipt of undisclosed and illegal payments, as well as other money-making schemes”.
By this time he had been named among 14 defendants in an indictment unsealed in federal court in New York charging them with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracies. He is currently fighting extradition to the US. He has always denied wrongdoing.