- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

ZURICH (AP) - The FIFA executive committee might have the worst reputation of any international sports body. Still, many candidates want to sit at soccer’s high table, known as the ExCo.

Two members of Asian royalty and a former Manchester United CEO are among nine men who will formally join the ExCo at the FIFA congress on Friday. Their first official meeting is on Saturday.

The ExCo, chaired by the FIFA president, now includes 24 elected men, one elected woman and two women co-opted on rolling one-year mandates.

The new recruits will find only eight members - plus Sepp Blatter if he is re-elected Friday - remaining from the much-discredited ExCo lineup of 2010 which chose Russia and Qatar as World Cup hosts.

Here are some things to know about the ExCo rookies elected by their continental confederations:

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HEIR APPARENT?

There is no doubt which is the most intriguing addition. Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait brings the biggest reputation of the new nine.

The Association of National Olympic Committees leader is known as the kingmaker of recent IOC elections. He was a key ally of Thomas Bach, who could be IOC president until 2025.

By moving into FIFA, the 51-year-old sheikh fueled talk he wants to succeed Sepp Blatter, his longtime fellow IOC member.

Sheikh Ahmad ran Kuwait’s soccer federation and Olympic body after the death of his father, Sheikh Fahad, in 1990 while fighting invading Iraqi forces.

Sheikh Fahad became part of World Cup lore in 1982. He ordered Kuwait players off the field to protest France being awarded a goal after defenders stopped after hearing a whistle blown in the grandstand. Incredibly, the Soviet Union referee disallowed the goal.

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BLATTER CRITICS

David Gill and Wolfgang Niersbach have reputations as soccer men of integrity who won’t just stay quiet to collect their annual $200,000 stipend from FIFA.

Gill was Manchester United’s CEO for 10 years, working closely with Alex Ferguson, and now has the FIFA vice presidency reserved for British federations.

Niersbach rose to be president of the German federation after serving as secretary general and media director.

Both fit the bill of what UEFA President Michel Platini has asked of ExCo members: “To bring ideas and want to change things and not just be sheep who always say yes.”

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CHANGE IN AFRICA

Two men had expressed ambition to succeed FIFA senior vice president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon as leader of African soccer.

On Friday, Mohamed Raouraoua of Algeria and Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast will cease to be ExCo members. Elected instead last month were Tarek Bouchamaoui of Tunisia and Constant Omari of Congo.

Bouchamaoui’s family construction firm in the oil and gas industry had close ties to the ousted regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. He was named this year in the Swiss Leaks affair for having accounts in Switzerland with the HSBC private banking operation.

Omari is the Congolese federation president and a loyal delegate for Blatter and Africa at the FIFA congress.

In 2011, Omari criticized an English attempt to postpone Blatter’s “coronation” re-election; in 2013, he opposed a Europe-led drive for age and term limits for FIFA officials; last year, he denounced British media for racism after reports Asian and African officials took cash gifts from now-disgraced Qatari Mohamed bin Hammam.

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ASIAN ROYALTY

Tengku Abdullah, the 59-year-old crown prince of Pahang state in Malaysia, is another new ExCo member with royal bloodlines.

He was elected president of the Malaysian soccer federation last year, succeeding his father, who spent 30 years in the role.

Tengku Abdullah effectively replaces outgoing ExCo member Worawi Makudi of Thailand, a longtime ally of Bin Hammam. Makudi spent 17 years in the FIFA executive committee and evaded sanctions despite numerous claims of unethical behavior, including conflicts of interest over FIFA-funded projects being built on land he part-owned.

Asia’s other new man formally replaces another Bin Hammam ally, Vernon Manilal Fernando of Sri Lanka, who FIFA banned for life in an election bribery case.

Kohzo Tashima of Japan has a clean reputation as an effective administrator for his national federation, where he is now vice president.

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AMERICAS PRESIDENTS

Juan Angel Napout of Paraguay is also a career administrator, who has led the Paraguayan federation since 2007 and was elected president in March of the South American regional body CONMEBOL.

Napout has long been a trusted fixture in FIFA legal reforms. He sat on panels which advised on updating the FIFA statutes in 2002-03 and again in 2012-13.

Napout is a rare CONMEBOL delegate to FIFA who speaks English.

Eduardo Li is president of Costa Rica’s federation. The businessman with Chinese family roots had a good year in 2014.

Li oversaw Costa Rica hosting the Under-17 Women’s World Cup for FIFA, and the national team as a feel-good success of the World Cup in Brazil by reaching the quarterfinals.


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