Asian body backs Sheikh Salman to replace Blatter

Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa (AP)
Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa (AP)

Kuala Lumpur - The Asian confederation Thursday reiterated its backing for Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa of Bahrain to succeed disgraced Sepp Blatter as president of world football body FIFA.

Sheikh Salman, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president, is one of five candidates in the February 26 election.

Richard Lai, AFC's marketing committee chairman from Guam urged member associations to vote for its president.

"Our vision is One Asia, One Goal. Our goal is a united Asia and to demonstrate that we must unite behind our president in the FIFA election," Lai said.

"At present Asia has two candidates for the FIFA Presidency. We must unite behind the one who will deliver these reforms and that is the AFC president," he added.

The other Asian contender is Prince Ali bin al Hussein, the 39-year-old brother of Jordan's King Abdullah.

The AFC executive committee had already said it would endorse Sheikh Salman at its previous meetings in New Delhi and in Doha.

"Thanks to that encouragement I have been able to enter this election with the overwhelming support of my Confederation, and that is clearly a massive help in my campaign," the AFC boss had said previously.

"I have received significant support around the world, and am happy with how the campaign has gone so far. So I go into the final week with confidence for the future of FIFA."

Sheikh Salman took over the Asian confederation in turmoil in 2013 after Mohamed bin Hammam was kicked out amid graft allegations.

Last year Sheikh Salman was re-elected unopposed for a full, four-year term and became a FIFA vice president into the bargain.

But he has been dogged by allegations that he was complicit in Bahrain's harsh crackdown on pro-democracy activists in 2011, charges he denies.

Besides the Asian contenders, the other remaining candidates are Gianni Infantino from Switzerland, Tokyo Sexwale from South African and Frenchman Jerome Champagne.

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