Tokyo Sexwale criticised sponsors for their threats to withdraw support if Sepp Blatter does not step down ©ICSS

Expanding football in China, Russia and India will be among the goals of FIFA Presidential candidate Tokyo Sexwale as he warned against sponsors dictating the future path of the organisation here at the Securing Sport summit.

The South African provided an anecdotal keynote address to open the two-day event, frequently citing the views of his former anti-Apartheid colleague Nelson Mandela and quipping how he is still officially considered a terrorist when entering the United States due to his time spent imprisoned on Robben Island.

He barely mentioned world football's governing body FIFA until the closing minutes, when he claimed the "collective wisdom of a leadership connective", is now required rather than the impact of one individual alone.

But he insisted that, while it is "understandable" that FIFA sponsors should express concerns, they should not be in a position to dictate the future path of the body.

"They have the right to speak, but we need to be careful how far we go with this shareholder activism," he told delegates at the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS) supported event.

"I think the activism of the sponsors should not have gone as far as saying if he doesn’t go, we will withdraw our money. 

"An unintended consequence of this is that the sponsors will be in a position to determine who comes in.

"You may then end up with the wrong person electing the President."

Sexwale then vowed to sit down and discuss the future of the body, but singled out Adidas for praise as they had taken a less critical stance.

The clothing giants were widely criticised in some quarters for not joining the likes of Budweiser, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa in calling last month for Sepp Blatter to quit his position with immediate effect after criminal proceedings were opened against him.

Tokyo Sexwale provided a keynote address on the opening day of the Securing Sport Summit ©ICSS
Tokyo Sexwale provided a keynote address on the opening day of the Securing Sport Summit ©ICSS

Sexwale did not take the opportunity to deliver many of his plans for the future of the organisation, claiming afterwards how it "was not an electoral platform" and he will have many more opportunities to promote his campaign over the next four months.

He hopes to publish his full manifesto within the next two weeks.

But he then said expanding football further in growing markets was a key aim - such as 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts Russia as well as China and India - while also promising to invest more funds into women's football.

"It is time to look at the leadership of football, and time to give space to people in other areas of the world," he added, in what can be interpreted as a call for non-European candidates to be considered.

When challenged about how he had so far failed to gain the support of the Confederation of African Football, Sexwale emphasised how no decision either way has yet been made, and that he is looking to gain votes all over the world rather than merely in his own continent.

Sexwale, a former South African Government Minister who is also a major player in diamond mining, is one of seven candidates for the FIFA Presidency along with Bahrain's Asian Football Confederation chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa,  Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Liberia's Musa Bility, France's Jérôme Champagne, UEFA head Michel Platini and UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino.

Blatter, who like Platini is currently serving a 90-day suspension from all footballing activity pending an investigation into alleged corruption, vowed to stand down next year just two days after being voted to serve a fifth term as FIFA President in May.

An election is due to be held at an Extraordinary FIFA Congress in Zurich on February 26.

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