They come from across the globe. From Chesterfield to Tahiti – the men with the future of the World Cup in their hands. Their average age is 63.
And the spotlight is now on those 24 men who make up the executive committee of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or Fifa, for short.
The group will select which nations host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, but allegations in the Sunday Times of vote selling by two of its officials have overshadowed the build-up to that scheduled decision on 2 December.
And Fifa has confirmed it is carrying out a further wide-ranging investigation into claims of serious breaches of the roles by some bidding nations.
One president, eight vice presidents and 15 members, appointed by international confederations and associations, have the World Cup in their hands.
But who are these powerful figures? Here, we profile the executive committee members of world football’s governing body.
Sepp Blatter (Switzerland)
Age: 74 Lives: Zurich, Switzerland
Former footballer, who played in top division of the Swiss amateur league. Went on to work in journalism and PR for the likes of the Swiss Ice Hockey Federaton and timekeeper Longines.
Joined Fifa in 1975, and elected as the organisation’s eighth president in June 1998.
Has more than 84,000 followers on the social networking site Twitter
SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT (1)
Julio Grondona (Argentina)
Age: 79 Lives: Buenos Aires
Founder of Arsenal Futbol Club, not to be confused with the English side of the same name, who play in the top tier of Argentine football.
President of his country’s football association, he lists his hobbies as sports management.
His all-time favourite player is Diego Maradona, but that did not stop him dropping Argentina’s golden boy as national coach after an early exit from the 2010 World Cup.
Grondona was understood to have wanted the English FA to face charges after former chairman Lord Triesman made bribery allegations in May about rival countries’ attempts to secure the 2018 tournament.
VICE PRESIDENTS (7)
Issa Hayatou (Cameroon)
Age: 64 Lives: Yaounde, Cameroon
Hayatou was released from hospital after being taken ill at a conference in Cairo on Thursday.
He has been the president of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) for 23 years and was a member of the organising committee for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The former PE teacher lost out to Blatter when he put himself forward for the Fifa top job in 2002.
Caused controversy when Caf banned Togo from the next two Africa Cup of Nations after they withdrew from this year’s tournament following an attack on their team bus which killed two officials. The ban was later lifted.
Mong Joon Chung (Korean Republic)
Age: 59 Lives: Seoul
A Korean MP, he is president of his national football association and speaks English, German, Japanese and Chinese as well as his mother tongue.
Says he enjoys skiing and mountain hiking plus ‘drinking with friends’.
The vote-selling allegations surfaced on the day, coincidentally, he was celebrating his 59th birthday.
Jack Warner (Trinidad and Tobago)
Age: 67 Lives: Arouca, Trinidad and Tobago
Colourful character who made headlines in a club v country war of words with then-Sunderland manager Roy Keane over Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Dwight Yorke in 2008.
A real estate developer, who spent 24 years as a history lecturer, he has been president of Concacaf – which covers north and central American plus Caribbean football – since 1990.
Has been critical of England’s bid in the past, although was delighted to welcome former captain David Beckham to the Under-17 Women’s World Cup final in Trinidad and Tobago in September 2010.
Angel Maria Villar Llona (Spain)
Age: 60 Lives: Madrid, Spain
A leading figure in the joint Spanish/Portuguese bid to stage the 2018 World Cup, he is president of Spain’s football federation.
The former Spain and Athletic Bilbao midfielder worked as a lawyer after he hung up his boots.
As president of Fifa’s referees committee, he also defended English referee Graham Poll when he blundered by booking the same player three times during the 2006 World Cup.
“Graham Poll is an exceptional referee and a great sportsman, who will be able to overcome the situation thanks to his strong personality and love of the game,” he said.
Michel Platini (France)
Age: 55 Lives: Nyon
Uefa president and a gifted former player who won the European Championship with France in 1984.
Famed as a free-kick specialist and for his passing ability, he scored 41 goals in 71 international matches.
He coached the France national team for four years and was the co-organiser of the 1998 World Cup in his homeland.
Platini collapsed in a restaurant during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. It was later reported he had fainted, having been suffering from flu.
Reynald Temarii (Tahiti)
Age: 43 Lives: Tahiti
One of the two Fifa officials at the centre of vote-selling allegations by the Sunday Times.
A native of Tahiti, he broke new territory in 2004 by becoming the first Pacific Islander to be president of the Oceania Football Confederation.
The organisation, based in New Zealand, covers nations including Papua New Guinea, Tonga and Fiji.
A former professional footballer for FC Nantes. As a child he supported another French club, St Etienne, and Liverpool.
Geoff Thompson (England)
Age: 65 Born: Sheffield. Lives: Chesterfield
Chairman of the Football Association for nine years until 2008, he was once general manager of Doncaster Rovers.
He was part of the five-strong team which delivered England’s World Cup bid book to Fifa in May.
Shortly afterwards, the magistrate replaced Lord Triesman as bid chairman when his predecessor quit following allegations he had accused Russia and Spain of bribery.
Michel D’Hooghe (Belgium)
Age: 64 Lives: Bruges, Belgium
Doctor who specialises in sports medicine and rehabilitation. Chairman of Fifa’s medical committee.
The president of Belgian side FC Bruges also speaks English, Spanish, French and German.
In early October 2010, he told BBC Sport he was concerned by the number of serious footballing injuries caused by dangerous tackles.
“I have two eyes, where I can see what happens – how some acts are really criminal,” he said.
Ricardo Terra Teixeira (Brazil) Age: 63
Boss of the Brazilian Football Confederation, he will have completed more than 25 years in charge when his country hosts the 2014 World Cup in Rio.
Married Lucia, a daughter of former Fifa president Joao Havelange, but the couple divorced in 1997 after nearly 30 years of marriage.
Has been on the executive committee of Fifa for 16 years.
Mohammed Bin Hammam
Age: 61 Lives: Dohar, Qatar
Asian Football Confederation chief is seen as a potential future Fifa leader but insists he will not challenge Sepp Blatter in next year’s presidential elections.
Has overseen the creation of the Asian Champions League and the introduction of Australia into the confederation.
After changing his mind, he was a supporter of the Premier League’s plan for a 39th game, possibly being staged in Asia.
A leading backer of the bid to stage the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the English speaker lists his hobbies as football, reading and poetry.
Senes Erzik (Turkey)
Age: 68 Lives: Istanbul, Turkey
Credited as a leading architect in the improved fortunes of Turkish football at the turn of the century, when Galatasaray won the 2000 Uefa Cup and the national side were third at the World Cup two years later.
The Turkish FA president and Uefa vice-president is a fan of classical music.
A former Unicef marketing director and boss of a big pharmaceuticals firm, he has been on Fifa’s executive committee for 14 years.
Fluent in English, French and German, he supported Turkish side Fenerbahce as a child.
Chuck Blazer (USA)
Age: 65 Lives: New York City
General secretary of Concacaf, the governing body of football in north and central America, and the Caribbean.
Takes the business of choosing a World Cup host nation seriously. Has conducted his own visits, in addition to official Fifa inspections, to European candidates.
The burly, bearded New Yorker is a former American Soccer League commissioner.
On 19 October, Blazer had 392 followers on the social networking site Twitter.
Worawi Makudi (Thailand) Age: 58
President of Thailand FA, he was criticised in late 2009 when the national team failed to reach the semi-finals of the South East Asia Games for the first time in 26 years.
Has been a key figure in appointing Englishmen as coaches of the Thai side in recent years and helped pave the way for the team to host Leicester City – under new boss Sven-Goran Eriksson – in an exhibition match on 9 October which the Foxes won 2-0.
Peter Reid, now the Plymouth boss, was in charge of Thailand for a year until September 2009 before former England and Manchester United captain Bryan Robson took over.
Nicolas Leoz (Paraguay)
Age: 82 Lives: Asuncion, Paraguay
President of Conmebol, the South American Football Confederation, for more than 20 years.
A former sports journalist, lawyer and part-time history professor.
When asked to name his most memorable or important match, he plumped for Argentina’s 2-1 win over England in 1986 World Cup. The match was famous for Diego Maradona’s controversial ‘Hand of God’ goal.
Junji Ogura (Japan)
Age: 72 Lives: Tokyo, Japan
Considered one of the most powerful men in Asian football, he is vice-president of the national FA and a former general secretary.
An English speaker who enjoys cooking, he has promoted Japan’s bid for the 2022 World Cup as the hi-tech option, with 3D TV at fan festivals and enhanced use of high-definition cameras at matches.
Supported West Ham United as a child and says England and Manchester United striker Sir Bobby Charlton was his idol.
Amos Adamu (Nigeria)
Age: 57 Lives: Abuja, Nigeria
President of the West African Football Union, Adamu is one of two Fifa members at the centre of vote-selling allegations.
A former teacher, who played and coached volleyball, he was executive director of the 2003 All Africa Games.
Outspoken on Nigerian football issues, he labelled his country’s football federation ‘absurd’ in May 2010 for replacing Shaibu Amodu with Swede Lars Lagerback as national coach for the World Cup.
When the team were knocked out in the group stage, a row erupted over federation elections which saw Fifa suspend Nigeria from international competition because of government interference.
Marios Lefkaritis (Cyprus)
Age: 63 Lives: Limassol, Cyprus
Honorary president of Cyprus FA, the self-styled entrepreneur is a board member of fuel firm Petrolina.
Has also served on the executive committee for Uefa, European football’s governing body.
Jacques Anouma (Ivory Coast)
Age: 58 Lives: Ivory Coast
Replaced Ousseynou Dieng as chairman of the Ivory Coast Football Federation following the team’s poor performance at the 2002 African Cup of Nations in Mali.
Helped oversee the investigations after 19 fans died when a wall collapsed as Ivory Coast beat Malawi 5-0 in a World Cup qualifier in March 2009.
Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
Age: 65 Lives: Kitzbuehel, Austria
The only player to captain (1974) and manage (1990) a team to World Cup victory – both times with West Germany.
Nicknamed ‘Der Kaiser’ (Emperor) as a player for his composed, stylish play in the sweeper role.
Capped more than 100 times by his country, he also won three consecutive European Cups with Bayern Munich in the 1970s.
Led Germany’s successful bid to host the 2006 World Cup and chaired the organising committee.
Rafael Salguero (Guatemala)
Age: 63 Lives: Guatemala City, Guatemala
Played for various clubs in Guatemala. Former chairman of Guatemalan FA, he founded the Clasicos 16 club.
A solicitor, he welcomed England 2018 ambassador David Ginola, and other bid supporters, to Guatemala for a visit in February, where a special coaching session was held for pupils at a school supported by the English charity ‘Education for the Children.
Hany Abo Rida (Egypt)
Age: 57 Lives: Cairo, Egypt
Member of the World Cup organising committee. Spent a period as treasurer of the Egyptian Football Association.
Is believed to have encouraged England to play a pre-World Cup match against Egypt and the visitors nearly pulled off a shock at Wembley in March, taking an early lead before going down to three second-half goals.
Vitaly Mutko (Russia)
Former President of Russian Football Union and Zenit Petersburg. He was also once deputy mayor of the city.
Played a lkey role in helping Russia bring in Dutchman Guus Hiddink as coach in 2006.
Member of the supervisory board for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and a leading figure in Russia’s bid to host the World Cup four years later.