RIO DE JANEIRO/BAHRAIN: Two confederations’ leaders have made their choices for the FIFA presidency race – though neither is binding on member associations.
CONMEBOL has endorsed Gianni Infantino, the Swiss general secretary of European governing body UEFA, while the Asian confederation has predictably backed its own president, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim A Khalifa.
Juan Angel Napout, the president of 10-strong CONMEBOL, insisted it would vote “as a block” for Infantino in next February’s election. He added: “We have spoken with Gianni to set out what is needed.”
Previously Napout had said he would support Michel Platini but that was before the French head of UEFA became mired in allegations of misconduct in office which prompted suspension and the risk of a life ban.
Infantino has indicated he will stand aside if Platini can clear his name and be allowed to enter the election race before the vote at an extraordinary congress on February 26.
As for Asia, a statement from the AFC confirmed the 24-member exco had unanimously backed Sheikh Salman.
It said: “The members of the AFC executive committee passed a resolution urging all member associations to unite behind and support the AFC president Sheikh Salman in his efforts to be elected as the first FIFA president from Asia.”
He responded: “It is a big support for my campaign, as well as an honour for me, to have the endorsement and full backing of the AFC executive committee. It also sends a strong message that Asia is behind one candidate.”
In fact he is not the only Asian candidate. Also running to succeed Sepp Blatter at the head of world fotball is Jordan’s former Fifa vice-president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein.
Other contenders are the French former diplomat and FIFA official Jerome Champagne and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale.