KUALA LUMPUR: New Asian confederation president Sheikh Salman will support Sepp Blatter if the FIFA president reverses his original stated intention and seeks a fifth term at the head of world football.
Blatter, addressing the AFC’s ordinary congress on Friday, had urged it to press for more slots at the World Cup finals in a move seen as a means to encourage support ahead of the next FIFA election in 2015.
Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, from Bahrain, responded by saying: “In 2015, we will have to wait and see [but] he’s always been a supporter of Asia and if he can fulfil and continue as a president, of course I will support him.”
Earlier Salman had said he would create an ethics committee on the model set up by FIFA last year during the current reform process. He also took a swipe at a government – which he refused to name but was assumed to be Qatar – over events in the run-up to his election on Thursday.
Asked whether a rival state had been the source of claims against him of vote rigging and human rights abuses, he said: “Oh yes, I know very well there was. Nobody can deny that. I think when the time comes and we have the evidence we will talk more.”
Salman was forced to deny claims of vote-buying on his behalf by the powerful Olympic Council of Asia while beaten rival Yousuf Al-Serkal of the UAE was beset by allegations that disgraced ex-AFC boss Mohamed bin Hammam had played a covert role in his campaign.
Salman said: “We wanted a quiet election. We wanted a campaign where people will have the right to choose a candidate without the external distractions that happened in the past few days.
“Unfortunately sometimes people don’t care because all they think about is just winning, no matter what the cost is. We tried to keep away but unfortunately what we saw and what we heard, there are allegations which didn’t serve football in a good way.
“Somebody tried to interfere and take it to a different direction and there is no ending – and I think there are other organisations that are in charge. We’ll probably look into that.
“First of all we have to look at the AFC, and I think it’s important that we have an independent judicial body to look into all these matters not just about the past but also in the future.
“I don’t think that I’d like in 2015 that we go through an election where we see all this happening. Sometimes we know who’s behind it unfortunately, whether it’s a PR company which has just been paid to do a smear campaign or whatever.
“I don’t think this is something which is fair in football that we want to see, that members (of the AFC) probably are contributing or government interfering as well, in a football election.”
Al-Serkal had been close to Bin Hammam who is a Qatari like Hassan Al-Thawadi whom Salman defeated in an election for an AFC seat on the FIFA exective committee.