April 2 - No new figurehead came forward to challenge Sepp Blatter and Mohamed Bin Hammam for the FIFA Presidency in the final hours before last night's midnight deadline and the pair will now square off face to face in Zurich on June 1.
Despite persistent calls by insideworldfootball today, FIFA refused to confirm that the Presidency would be a two-horse race even though American journalist Grant Wahl pulled out after failing to receive the nomination he needed, leaving the field clear for Blatter and his Asian challenger to fight it out.
FIFA said they would only announce the candidates formally on Monday (April 4) "following a thorough verification process."
Asked what that meant, sources said the the world governing body, which closed business for the weekend before the deadline, wanted to make 100 per cent sure that nothing had arrived by post or fax from any prospective contender that pre-dated the deadline.
Wahl, meanwhile, bemoaned the fact that he had been unable to secure sufficient backing having launched his campaign in protest at FIFA's inner sanctum after a spate of recent corruption scandals.
"If FIFA were truly a representative democracy I'm convinced that not only would I have been nominated but I also would have beaten Blatter and Bin Hammam in a landslide on election day," he said in his latest article for Sports Illustrated, for whom he is soccer correspondent.
Bin Hammam, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief who is seeking to become only the ninth FIFA President, now has two months to convince FIFA's membership that it is time for a change.
Bin Hammam has announced a manifesto centred on transparency whilst at the same time offering individual members a greater contribution of FIFA's revenue than under Blatter.
The Qatari, recently elected for a third and final term as Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President, will be stepping up his lobbying campaign in the weeks ahead as he tries to unseat 75-year-old Blatter who is seeking a fourth term after 13 years in charge.
Blatter could make his first post-deadline appearance on Monday at the SportAccord Congress in London.
The FIFA President is scheduled to meet FA chairman David Bernstein privately at Wembley the same day in an effort to persuade England – still angry at their treatment during their disastrous 2018 World Cup ballot – to support him.
March 2011: Mihir Bose - Blatter and Bin Hammam chances rest on who can claim credit for the Goal Project
March 2011: Exclusive: Blatter - "I need four more years to complete my mission"
March 2011: Blatter promises to stand down after one more term as FIFA President
January 2011: Gauntlet thrown down by Blatter over FIFA Presidency
January 2011: Blatter plans to set-up FIFA anti-corruption committee