FIFA: Waiting for The Don, Reform Package Passes, Sexwale Drops Out, FIRST ROUND SHOCK; Infantino Takes It

A mild upset for sure.

The sound you heard was Sepp Blatter being flushed. At the beginning, it was obvious everybody felt a little odd attending a Congress without Blatter sitting front and center, watching every detail.

Then, suddenly, it was really, finally all over.

Infantino 115, Salman 88, Prince Ali 4, Champagne 0

Truest line of the day was the Sunil Gulati quote: only believe the guys who say they're NOT voting for you. I'm not sure Sheikh Salmon ever heard it.

As I mentioned yesterday, FIFA wanted to pre-screen the winner's comments. What they forgot was that whoever won just became their boss and say whatever he wants.

UPDATE: First ballot: Infantino 88, Salmon 85, Ali 27, Champagne 7.

Shock all around. Salmon, who smirked and slouched his way through his speech and the session like a man with a dirty secret, suddenly looks like he just swallowed an anvil.

Champagne will be eliminated, but his 7 won't put anyone over.

Ali to make a deal? He and Salmon loathe each other. If Ali makes a deal it'll have to be with the Italian.

Gulati is deep in conversation with Infantino. Now leaving floor together. Either they're going for a nooner or something's up.

Personal note: would someone PLEASE tell Wahl that the reason they don't use the electronic system for the Presidential vote is so that the voters can't be tracked? Because if he complains about it one more time I swear I'm going to have to start drinking heavily.

When they call for the US representative to step into the (non-transparent) voting booth, the man with the pencil will be our own beloved Don Garber.

So while we wait for the first round of voting to begin - around 1300 GMT or, if my math is correct, 8 AM Eastern - we'll be subjected to speeches from the five candidates.

They're even going to make us listen to Sexwale and Champagne who are collectively only slightly more popular here than Loretta Lynch.

UPDATE: Voting starting. The GenSec instructed the delegates to not "take photographs of their ballots", telling them that trays are provided outside the booths in which they are to leave their cell phones.

Apparently they know Prince Ali wasn't just being paranoid.

Sunil Gulati, as an ExCo member, is sitting in the front row on the dais, on the very end, next to the podium where the candidates speak. As such, he's forced to try and look like he's paying attention.

Sexwale, is actually giving the best. most listenable speech. He just mentioned Gulati in passing, referring to him as "Mr. Sunil".

It was beginning to look like Sexwale would make it all the way through without once mentioning Nelson Mandela. Then, as the clock hit :30 seconds remaining, out it came: "As Nelson Mandela once told me..."

He closes his speech by announcing that he's dropping out.

I love this guy.

Biggest Applause Line of the Day Award: When Sexwale referred to "our freind Sepp Blatter".

Clueless Comment Medal: Grant Wahl, complaining that billionaire Tokyo Sexwale, one of the richest men in Africa - he controls, among lots of other things, roughly half of the world's diamond production - couldn't afford to campaign as widely as the other guys which explains his lack of support.

He added that the other candidates can all travel and campaign using "federation and confederation funds". Unfortunately, this is an express violation of FIFA's Ethics Rules.

Somebody get Wahl a red nose and big floppy shoes.

The only widely applauded line of the first four speeches came when Infantino repeated his election promise to open up FIFA's coffers and shower everybody with insane amount of money.

As for the candidates themselves, while Prince Ali doesn't stand a chance of getting elected, if the vote was based on how hot your wife is, he'd win in a walk.

It's an interesting strategy having her there in the hall next to him - none of Shiekh Salmon's wives were available, apparently - but in this collection of old, fat, graying thieves, she really stands out.

UPDATE: The reform package sailed through. The days of the dreaded Executive Committee - AKA the ExCo - are over. FIFA will henceforth be governed by "The Council".

Just before breaking for lunch, they voted to dismiss Conover Watson of the Cayman Islands - Jeff Webb's partner in crime - from the Audit and Compliance Committee.

This decision was made easy by the fact that Watson is in prison in the Caymans over a conspiracy to defraud the national health care system, making his attendance at meetings somewhat problematical.

On the off chance that you didn't get up at 3 AM to start watching the FIFA Extraordinary Congress (lucky West Coast types could simply skip going to bed at all) - hard to imagine, I know - rest easy; I gave up sleep years ago.

We're now approximately two hours in and the only item of interest thus far was a motion from the floor to allow the suspended Kuwait and Indonesian federations to vote in the impending election.

Both nations are known to favor Sheikh Salmon, but that's got to be a coincidence, right?

Switzerland FIFA Election

However that may be, the motion was swatted aside, with only 25 federations voting to let them cast their ballots. Whether this was an early gauge of Salmon's strength or simply a victory for common sense remains to be seen.

Just catching up Dept: CONCACAF voted unanimously (that's 41 - 0 if you're scoring at home, or even if you're alone) to approve the proposed package of reforms, thus hopefully keeping the FBI out of the regional football business, at least for a while.

Now a bit of angry kerfuffle on the floor as the Palestinian representative urges everyone to vote no on the FIFA reform package because, if I'm following the logic (for lack of a better term) it's "too soon".

Still, it wouldn't be a FIFA Assembly without the Palestinians trying to kick up a fuss about something, and it's refreshing that they've found a new topic to be angry about.