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Tokyo Sexwale will run for FIFA presidency after gaining SAFA backing

Tokyo Sexwale will stand in February's FIFA presidential election.

Tokyo Sexwale, a South African businessman and former political prisoner who fought against apartheid, says he intends to be a candidate in the FIFA presidential election.

Sexwale, 62, announced his intention to run after the South African Football Association (SAFA) National Executive Committee unanimously endorsed his candidacy in a meeting on Saturday, two days ahead of the deadline for candidates to submit papers for the Feb. 26 emergency election to replace Sepp Blatter.

Four other men have already submitted their papers: UEFA President Michel Platini, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan, ex-FIFA official Jerome Champagne and David Nakhid of Trinidad and Tobago.

To stand as a candidate, hopefuls must be nominated by at least five national federations, and show they have played an active role in football for two of the last five years. They will also face ethics checks.

As well as working on FIFA's anti-discrimination committee, Sexwale has mediated for FIFA in the dispute between the Israeli and Palestinian football federations, a diplomacy mission given to him by outgoing president Blatter.

He also formerly served on the organising committee for South Africa's 2010 World Cup.

Sexwale holds strong political credentials. An anti-apartheid activist, he was imprisoned on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela during apartheid, South Africa's system of white minority rule, and became a close confidante of the late Mandela.

Sexwale later served as a cabinet minister after South Africa's shift to democracy and at one time held ambitions of becoming South African president.

He is also a multi-millionaire businessman with interests in the mining and energy sectors, among others.

FIFA will elect a new president on Feb. 26 following Blatter's decision in June to step down amid corruption probes into the world football's governing body by United States and Swiss investigators.

Platini, previously the favourite to win the election, has been provisionally suspended for 90 days over a payment of 2 million Swiss francs (about $2 million) Blatter made to him in 2011.


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