MANILA: Asian football could face a new round of infighting over Sepp Blatter’s ambition to secure re-election as FIFA president next year writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Uncertainty exists over whether Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein of Jordan will join French former FIFA official Jerome Champagne in contesting the election at the world federation’s congress in May.
However a warning shot has been fired across his bows by the president of his own Asian football confederation.
Sheikh Salman Ebrahim bin Al Khalifa has issued a reminder that an AFC conference in Sao Paulo acclaimed Blatter when he addressed delegate from member associations on the eve of the World Cup finals.
He said: “We made it clear during the Brazil congress that the AFC is supporting of Sepp Blatter in the next election.
“This was the decision by the congress and a decision by the executive committee. What I heard in the media is so far unofficial and I can’t comment on that. All I can comment on about is the official stand where the AFC and the exco have made it clear.
“I’m just focusing on what we have decided upon and agreed upon and I think that Jordan and Prince Ali were a part of that Congress.
“I think we made up our mind and we decided and that’s it. We are, lets say, a nation who don’t change our minds. Once we commit and we give our word then we are committed. But it’s a democratic process and if someone wants to run, they can.”
Prince Ali, one of the reformers on the FIFA executive, is in an awkward position. His Asian vice-presidency will be taken over, from May, by the AFC president who has the powerful regional support of Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah from Kuwait.
If Prince Ali wishes to remain on the FIFA exco he must either seek a delegate’s role or challenge Blatter.
The 78-year-old Swiss remains odds-on favourite to win a fifth term despite the latest round of chaos promoted by an ethics investigation into the 2018-2022 World Cup bid scandal.
Sheikh Salman is confident that he, at least, will be re-elected at teh head of the Asian confederation in the spring.
He said: “Most people are happy and think I have done a good job. I have tried to bring the different zones in Asia together in the spirit of unity. There’s still six months to go so we’ll see.”
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