Tokyo Sexwale
Tokyo Sexwale delivers his surprising announcementGetty Images

South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale has announced his withdrawal from the Fifa presidential election. The 62-year-old multi-millionaire was among the final five candidates for the coveted role, but having failing to receive any significant support he confirmed his intention to withdraw from the vote moments before it was due to begin.

Sexwale, a former anti-Apartheid activist and African National Congress politician, was not considered to be among the frontrunners for the position, but shocked the assembled officials by announcing his decision at Fifa's extraordinary congress in Zurich, Switzerland.

"Dear comrades, and distinguished guests," he said, in a pre-vote speech, "I don't stand before you to teach you anything about football. I have played football in Soweto, in prison, in the army... I have just had a son, born three days ago. And as soon as I can I will throw him a football.

"None of us thought we would be here. We are nominated by you... people have told me to withdraw, but I die with my boots on. When you're on a mission, you don't withdraw."

Sexwale, who spent a 13-year period of his life in prison alongside the likes of Nelson Mandela, told the Fifa congress that football had a series of deep-rooted issues that need to be addressed, but insisted he is positive about the future of the game.

He continued: "'Extraordinary congress' means a crisis, and we can't talk about football... I am sorry we lost our friends, Sepp Blatter, Jerome Valcke... I hope one day they can resolve their problems, and we will be able to help them. Mandela told us never to rejoice in the pain and misery of others.

"We came to fix our own family, Fifa... football is not broken – football is fine. It's not rocket science – it has problems, it must be grown... The task is to change is to change the playing fields from brown patches to green fields."

He added: "My candidacy ends today, I end my participation, I leave you four candidates... it's your problem now. I am prepared to serve under the next president. My campaign is suspended as of now."