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IFA's Martin leads the way in Fifa vice-president race

Windsor chief favourite to beat rivals and succeed Clarke at governing body

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David Martin

David Martin

�INPHO/Philip Magowan

David Martin

Irish FA president David Martin is rated favourite among the three candidates standing for election as Fifa's new vice-president.

The role became vacant in November when England's Greg Clarke resigned over his use of "unacceptable" language while referring to black players as he gave evidence to a government committee.

The Englishman defeated Martin by 37 votes to 18 in a two-man contest for the £190,000-a-year role in 2019 but, now that the position has reopened, Martin's name is once again in the frame.

His standing at Fifa has been further enhanced since then by his work with the IFA, domestically and on the international stage, marking him out as the leading contender.

His opponents are Scottish FA vice-president Michael Mulraney and Welsh FA president Kieran O'Connor. The vote will be held at the Uefa Congress in Montreux, Switzerland on April 20.

Fifa have eight vice-president positions and one is traditionally reserved for a Home Nations member. If Martin is voted in, he would be in office for two years, joining the late Harry Cavan and Jim Boyce in a select band of IFA officials to serve as Fifa vice-presidents.

It's a continuation of a dramatic comeback for a man removed from his IFA position in 2010 by then Sports Minister Nelson McCausland, who deemed the organisation not fit for purpose.

Martin, then the IFA treasurer, and president Raymond Kennedy left their posts after being strongly criticised in an independent report into the departure of chief executive Howard Wells. Settlement of his unfair dismissal case cost the IFA £500,000.

After leaving, Martin made known his determination to return to the IFA and did so when he was elected deputy president on the back of a unanimous vote at a meeting of the IFA Council, becoming president in 2016.

When asked at the time if he supported the candidacy of Martin for the IFA presidency, McCausland said: "I support the candidacy of whoever comes forward. We're a democratic organisation. David is a highly respected member of our organisation, our first deputy president. I respect him."

Under Martin's watch, the new-look Windsor Park has opened up, the Association successfully staged the Women's European Under-17 finals and the Irish FA have been named host of this year's prestigious Uefa Super Cup, played between the winners of the Champions League and Europa League.

Belfast Telegraph


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