BELGRADE (Reuters) - The soccer association chiefs of 13 European countries that met in Belgrade on Saturday have pledged unanimous support to Gianni Infantino in his bid to become FIFA president, the Serbian FA (FSS) said in a statement.
“Unified and unanimous support has been conveyed to Gianni Infantino in his candidacy to become FIFA president,” the FSS said.
“There is a conviction that he is the best candidate to lead the world soccer governing body.”
The FSS hosted a convention attended by UEFA secretary general Infantino and the FA chiefs of Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus, Russia, Romania and Turkey.
Swiss Infantino appears to have widespread backing in Europe and promised support from South and Central American countries.
Earlier this month, the 45-year old hinted he could appoint an African to run day-to-day administration if he wins the election in Zurich on Feb. 26.
On Thursday, his plan for an expanded 40-team World Cup came under fire from two of his rivals as the campaign to secure the top job at the corruption-hit organization heated up.
Infantino’s plan to create eight new spots in the World Cup was slammed by Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne.
FIFA is embroiled in the worst crisis in its 111-year history, with its former secretary general Jerome Valcke becoming the latest high-profile official to be kicked out of the sport.
Valcke was banned for 12 years on Friday after causing “considerable financial damage” to FIFA, whose disgraced president Sepp Blatter was banned for eight years in December over a spate of corruption scandals.
UEFA president Michel Platini was also banned for eight years. The crisis gripping the soccer world began with arrests of a group of FIFA officials at a luxury Zurich hotel last May.
Editing by Pritha Sarkar