Tokyo Sexwale defends Sepp Blatter, says it is time for a black FIFA president
By Kaveh Solhekol
Last Updated: 11/01/16 9:26pm
FIFA presidential candidate Tokyo Sexwale has defended Sepp Blatter's record and says he feels sorry for both him and the axed UEFA boss Michel Platini.
Sexwale, an anti-apartheid South African who was in prison with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island for 13 years, is hoping to succeed Blatter in next month's elections.
He has worked at FIFA for nine years and was a key member of South Africa's successful World Cup 2010 bid, which was investigated by the FBI over an alleged bribe to former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.
Sexwale is now one of the richest men in Africa - with business in gold, diamonds, paltinum and oil - and insists he would strip Qatar of the World Cup if there is any proof of corruption in the bidding process.
Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News HQ, he said: "I was approached to stand after Blatter's resignation. I am of FIFA. I didn't want to be president but seeing the problems I thought I would stand.
"I feel very sorry for him. I don't say he was a friend but he is a friend. I've spoken on the phone to Blatter and Platini, and they are leaders so they have to deal with it. They have to face their mistakes, but let's not bury the good that they have done.
"Blatter's work is a monument that stands for itself. It is a mountain that cannot be moved. It is up to the ethics committee what happens. The damage done is for posterity but it is not like they've murdered or committed genocide. It is a game. We are there to understand and carry on their good work and learn from their mistakes.
"On the Qatar World Cup bid, we should never have a double bid for a World Cup again [the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts were decided on the same day].
"It's up to ExCo and lawyers, not just up to me to decide. FIFA the collective have to decide."
As per his manifesto, Sexwale wants to implement reform and make FIFA more transparent. He wants to increase aid and development funding in poorer nations and has also pledged to develop women's football.
He wants to combat racism by setting up the first Fifa anti-racism committee and would like to allow sponsorship on national team shirts, while increasing the number of teams at the World Cup finals from 32.
And asked whether he thought it was time for a black FIFA president, he said: "I've always fought against racism.
"Black is just colour. My message for Europe is the score is 111 to 0. All leaders have been white. This is a diverse world. The colonial era has passed. It would be correct for Europeans to show we have all come of age.
"I wouldn't call European football institutionally racist because racism is a direct act, but I think it is by omission. We are all of the same world. It could be described as racist by others."To get others a chance from other continents, we need to decolonise the world. It is time to bring in a person of colour."