MELBOURNE: Alex Soosay, general secretary of the Asian confederation, has insisted that Prince Ali of Jordan’s challenge for the FIFA presidency will not shift the AFC’s official backing for Sepp Blatter writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Soosay told reporters, on the eve of an extraordinary congress ahead of the Asian Cup hosting in Australia, that Prince Ali’s intervention was a distraction.

In Sao Paulo, on the eve of the World Cup finals in Brazil, another AFC conference had backed Blatter’s continuation by acclamation. Soosay said that nothing had changed and he believed the Asian football family should remain united.

Soosay said: “We made a pledge in congress in Brazil that the entire Asian football family was supporting the FIFA president. As Asia we should also stay together and be united rather than divided.

“For us the Asian Cup is paramount and I’m sure the member associations don’t want to be affected by this situation. We just want to focus on football.”

Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, the AFC president, has stated his support for Blatter who is overwhelming favourite to be re-elected for a fifth term in office at FIFA Congress in Zurich next May 29.

Prince Ali, a reformist member of the FIFA executive committee and its Asian vice-president, announced his own candidacy at the start of the week.

He said it was time “to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport . . . The world’s game deserves a world-class governing body. The headlines should be about football, not about FIFA.”

Blatter has welcomed Prince Ali’s challenge because “we are a democracy which can only be strengthened by debate.”

A third declared candidate is Jerome Champagne, a French former FIFA official.

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