Tokyo Sexwale would explore the possibility of national team shirt sponsorship if elected as FIFA President ©Getty Images

Shirt sponsorship of national teams could become a reality if South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale wins the FIFA Presidency.

A 14-page manifesto distributed by the former anti-apartheid political activist turned mining tycoon includes a pledge to “seriously explore the possibility of having the national jersey…bearing the logo of the main sponsor”.

He goes on: “There is space there for much value worth millions of dollars which will be destined directly into FAs’ coffers!”

In a canny document which offers much to the 209 National Associations that comprise the electorate for next February’s contest while seeking to highlight its author’s extensive management expertise in football, politics and business, much is left vague.

For example, in calling for a stronger development support and financial assistance programme for “less well-to-do” FAs, Sexwale pledges a “prudent distribution of funds to FAs will be done in an equitable and responsible manner” while “maintaining adequate cash reserves to maintain FIFA as a going concern”.

But he does not quantify either the distribution of funds or the size of cash reserves he regards as “adequate”.

For example, he proposes - as I suspect will several candidates - that the World Cup be expanded “above the current 32 teams”, without saying to how many.

Similarly, listing the number of National Associations, World Cup slots and Executive Committee members for each Confederation, he argues that FIFA needs to “take a hard look, with sensitivity, at these imbalances”, without saying what he would regard as fair.

Tokyo Sexwale wants to improve the ratio of
Tokyo Sexwale wants to improve the ratio of "brown patches to green pitches" ©Getty Images

For example, in a short section on Confederations, he pledges that the FIFA Executive Committee “shall review the financial situation to ensure that there is a much fairer distribution of funds, so that each Confederation can exercise greater financial independence”, but once again offers no specifics.

He is clear – in common with many others inside and outside the governing body - in urging what he terms “enhanced democratisation”: direct election of all FIFA Executive Committee members at the FIFA Congress, and not via Confederations.

The 62-year-old wants to set up two new bodies – an 11-strong (geddit?) FIFA Independent International Advisory Board, comprising “respected eminent persons from various walks of life including football” and meeting once a year, and a Sponsors’ Forum.

He also proposes elevating FIFA’s Anti-Racism Task Force to standing committee status, “with myself as the President being an ex-officio member”.

While pledging a “special emphasis” on his own continent of Africa, he manages to make specific mention of much of the globe in discussing possible future enhanced development spending.

China and India “will receive more attention”; “everything shall be done” to ensure growth in Europe because “there are disadvantaged areas in Europe far away from the glare of cameras at centres such as Wembley”; the “greatest area of need” is in the developing world – “Oceania, parts of CONCACAF (North and Central America and the Caribbean), parts of Asia and parts of CONMEBOL (South America)”.

There is also a particularly resonant pledge to ensure that “the ratio of brown patches to green pitches improves significantly for the better in every country”.

This because “the majority of football playing fields in the world are bare brown patches versus lush green pitches”.

Based on this election pitch, I would hazard that Sexwale does not expect many votes from Western Europe, but is battling on most other fronts.

“For FIFA to be truly seen as global, its President should come from a different continent from time to time,” he observes, in a statement that could be endorsed by some of his rivals, notably Bahrain’s Shaikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa.

Sexwale’s other three rivals in the February 26 election at present are Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, Jérôme Champagne of France and Gianni Infantino of Switzerland.  

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