BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN: Brunei’s football federation has countered excited reports out of Jordan that it would be suppporting Prince Ali bin Al Hussein in challenging Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Indeed a statement suggested its vote would be cast in quite the opposite direction.
Last week Prince Ali, outgoing Asian vice-president of the world football federation, met Prince Sufri Bolkiah, brother of the Sultan of Brunei, alongside an Asian confederation executive board meeting in Manama, Bahrain.
Positive comments emerged from the meeting have been seized upon by supporters of Prince Ali who faces an awkward challenge in attracting votes from members of the AFC whose president. Bahraini Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa, is an avowed Blatter backer.
However, a statement from the National Football Association of Brunei Darussalam, sought to play down reports.
The NFABD said: “During a brief private meeting in Manama requested by HRH Prince Ali, both HRH Prince Sufri Bolkiah and HRH Prince Ali had the opportunity to discuss common sports interests. HRH Prince Sufri Bolkiah, expressed his great respect to HRH Prince Ali, for his contribution to football and his vision to lead FIFA.
“HRH Prince Sufri Bolkiah also express his shared respects and well wishes to all the other FIFA candidates, especially to the current FIFA president Mr Joseph S Blatter, who has contributed and proved his commitment to the world football and to the NFABD.
“The NFABD wishes to clarify that HRH Prince Sufri Bolkiah, made no open assurance or commitment to any one particularly bid for the candidacy of FIFA President.
“HRH Prince Sufri Bolkiah maintains the equal respect to all candidates, and in the true spirit of the sport, will support the successful candidate. Furthermore, the NFABD along with the other members of Asian Football Confederation, remain committed to the pledge made during the AFC meeting in Sao Paolo, Brazil last year.”
The last reference was to an AFC conference staged on the eve of the World Cup finals which was held to have offered an overwhelming endorsement of Blatter’s wish to win a fifth term as FIFA president.
Blatter had already made his re-election intentions plain though neither he nor subsequent challengers Prince Ali, Dutchman Michael Van Praag and Portugal’s Luis Figo had put themselves forward formally as candidates.