World soccer leaders electing new FIFA president

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World soccer leaders are meeting to elect a new FIFA president, with Asian confederation head Sheikh Salman of Bahrain the favorite to succeed Sepp Blatter at the scandal-tarnished organization.

Voting was scheduled to begin at around 1300 GMT Friday following speeches by the five candidates.

No candidate is expected to win in the first round, where 138 votes from the 207 eligible voters is needed for victory.

Sheikh Salman would likely have the momentum for victory if he gets at least 104 votes that would be a winning simple majority in the second round.

Gianni Infantino of Switzerland, the general secretary of European governing body UEFA, is expected to be the Bahraini royal's main rival.

The other candidates are: Prince Ali of Jordan, who conceded to Blatter after a first-round vote last year; former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France; and Tokyo Sexwale of South Africa, a businessman and former anti-apartheid activist.

Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term in May but, amid escalating corruption scandals, bowed to pressure four days later and announced he would resign. Blatter was subsequently banned for six years for financial mismanagement.

Before electing FIFA's first new president since 1998, the 207 federations will be asked to approve reforms intended to prevent further corruption and bribery scandals.

Those include preventing presidents from serving more than three four-year terms, reducing their powers and guaranteeing more independent oversight for FIFA's decision-making and spending of $5 billion-plus income from each World Cup.

Still, the new era FIFA hopes for will not easily escape the fallout from Blatter's scandal-hit leadership.

Sheikh Salman has been the most criticized and scrutinized candidate through the four-month campaign.

The 50-year-old Bahrain soccer federation president has strongly denied claims that, after Arab Spring protests in 2011, he helped identify national team players to be detained. They later alleged abuse and torture by government security forces.

Sheikh Salman would become the ninth elected president in FIFA's 112-year history, and the first from Asia.