French Federation backs Infantino for FIFA presidency

Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:20am EST
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PARIS (Reuters) - The French Football Federation announced on Friday its formal backing for Swiss candidate Gianni Infantino's bid for the FIFA presidency in a snub for French hopeful Jerome Champagne.

"Noel Le Graet, in the name of the French Football Federation and his executive committee, declares his support for Gianni Infantino," the FFF said in a statement.

It quoted Le Graet as saying the executive committee had voted 11-1 in favor of the move.

"Gianni has all the qualities needed to succeed," the federation head said of Infantino, who is currently general secretary of European soccer's ruling body UEFA.

He added that the Swiss had shown in working with France's UEFA president Michael Platini, currently subject to an eight-year ban from soccer, that he had the necessary talent, experience and strength of conviction.

Le Graet said Infantino's manifesto was a step in the right direction for the sport and the federations to restore FIFA's tarnished image as well as develop the sport and its values worldwide.

The FFA announcement came after a heated exchange between Champagne, one of five candidates seeking soccer's top job as replacement for disgraced Swiss Sepp Blatter, and the FFF chief on Thursday.

Champagne told Reuters that he had met Le Graet to seek his support when 209 national presidents cast their votes in Zurich next month.

Informed that the FFF would be supporting Infantino, Champagne said he told Le Graet that he would protest against his decision at the highest political level.   Continued...

UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino arrives at the South American Football confederation CONMEBOL for a meeting with officials in Luque, Paraguay, January 26, 2016. CONMEBOL is electing a new president on Tuesday.  REUTERS/Mario Valdez