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IFA chief Martin set to discover FIFA vice-presidency fate after diligent digital election campaign

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Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - 

The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony

Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier

Communities Minister Paul Givan is pictured with  FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and Irish FA President, David Martin at the official opening ceremony.

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Communities Minister Paul Givan is pictured with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and Irish FA President, David Martin at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th October 2016 - The National Football Stadium at Windsor Park Opening Game and Ceremony Northern Ireland vs San Marino 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier Communities Minister Paul Givan is pictured with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and Irish FA President, David Martin at the official opening ceremony. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye

By late morning on Tuesday, Irish FA President David Martin will know if he is to become one of the most powerful and influential figures in world football.

President Martin is one of three candidates vying for the position of FIFA Vice-President, with the election taking place at UEFA's annual Congress in Montreux, Switzerland on Tuesday.

The prestigious role which, following tradition, is reserved for a British representative from the Home Nations, has been vacant since November after the Football Association's Greg Clarke felt compelled to resign following his use of 'unacceptable' language during a meeting with the Government's Select Committee.

Martin, who has played leading administration roles in the Amateur League, Co Antrim FA and Irish FA for over 40 years, will go up against Kieran O'Connor, the President of the Football Association of Wales, and Michael Mulraney, Vice President of the Scottish Football Association, in Tuesday's vote.

The Co Down man has been digitally campaigning and networking for the last few months in an effort to claim the support he needs to land the £190,000-a-year job, which will include generous expenses.

He commissioned a glossy brochure detailing his strengths, achievements and what he hopes to bring to the office, and sent it out to all UEFA member nations.

Ahead of his flight to Switzerland today, he had been able to hold meetings with the vast majority of associations around Europe.

There are 55 countries affiliated to UEFA and they all have a casting vote. Therefore, 67-year-old Martin requires 28 votes to see him over the line.

If successful, Martin will hold the office for two years and would join seven other Vice-Presidents from around the world alongside President Gianni Infantino.

His tenure as Irish FA President, which he has held since the summer of 2016, will end on June 28, leaving him free to focus his energy on the FIFA role, should he prove successful.

If elected, Martin would also take up a position on FIFA's all-powerful Council.

This is the second time in two years Martin's name has appeared on the ballot for FIFA Vice-President.

In 2019, Martin decided to go up against favourite Clarke in what many viewed as a 'protest vote'.

The FA's David Gill relinquished the role in 2018 and it has been customary down the years that the British nations share the position around.

However, then FA Chairman Clarke was determined to be the next in line and Martin was the only representative from the Irish, Scottish and Welsh FA's to stand up to him.

While Clarke won the election 37-18, Martin was content with his return considering the FA's standing in world football gave the Englishman the profile to be a huge favourite.

Martin now hopes to go one better this time around and, if he does, will follow his fellow Northern Ireland men, the great, late Harry Cavan, who held the honour for 30 years years from 1960-1990, while Jim Boyce was in office between 2011 and on 2015.

Martin has refused to speak publicly on the election, preferring to wait until the votes are cast on Tuesday morning, but an IFA insider told Sunday Life Sport: "David has been working diligently on his campaign for months now and he has given himself the best opportunity to win the election.

"Chief Executive Patrick Nelson has been supporting him in meetings and it would be a major achievement not just for David but the IFA if he were to land this position as it would mean the IFA has a strong voice at the top table of world football.

"From dealing with issues in Mid Ulster or the Co Antrim as he has done for many years, he would suddenly find himself the top football administrator in the British Isles sitting on FIFA's Council and having to make decisions on Asian, African and south American football. It would be a huge remit."

Tuesday's vote will take place between 9am and 11am BST and will be streamed live on Uefa.com.


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