ZURICH: FIFA has insisted that president Sepp Blatter is remaining perfectly neutral in the Asian confederation’s presidential election writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The world federation issued a formal statement to that effect after some media outlets had run away with comments from Yousuf Al Serkal, the president of the United Arab Emirates football association.

Al Serkal is one of four candidates to succeed disgraced Mohamed Bin Hammam at an extraordinary election congress in Kuala Lumpur on May 2.

Last Monday, during a press conference to launch his manifesto, Al Serkal had responded favourably about a recent meeting with Blatter in Zurich.

However FIFA has said: “Contrary to what has been reported in the media, the FIFA President, in accordance with his full commitment towards the neutrality of his function as well as the autonomy of the confederations to manage their own business, has at no time provided his backing to any of the candidates for the upcoming election to the AFC presidency.”

The other three candidates are Worawi Makudi (Thailand), Hafez Ibrahim Al Medlej (Saudi Arabia), Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa (Bahrain) and Yousuf Al Serkal (UAE), for a tenure of two years, until 2015.

# # #