ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino voiced confidence on Tuesday he would get more than the 105 votes he needs to win Friday’s election for the new head of soccer’s world governing body.
FIFA is engulfed in a corruption scandal that has led to the indictment of several dozen leading football officials in the United States. Outgoing president Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, head of European soccer federation UEFA, have been banned for eight years for ethics violations, which they deny.
Infantino, the Swiss general secretary of UEFA, is one of five candidates standing in the election, in which each of FIFA’s 209 national football associations (FAs) holds one vote.
He and Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain are considered the frontrunners in a field that also includes South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan and Frenchman Jerome Champagne. Prince Ali’s lawyers said on Tuesday they had requested a delay in the vote while he appeals to sport’s highest tribunal over his request for transparent voting booths and independent scrutineers.
Infantino told Reuters Television in an interview: “I am very confident about the situation, and the discussions I‘m having with the leaders of many associations make me feel even more confident, so I hope to have some more than 105.”
He said Blatter and Platini were among the people he had spoken to, although he had not taken any advice.
”I have spoken to (acting FIFA president) Issa Hayatou, to Michel Platini, to Sepp Blatter, about 150 presidents of FAs,“ he said. ”It’s only normal if you want to become president of FIFA: you speak to as many people as possible but at the end of the day, you need to convince 105 FAs to vote for you.
“(I’ve taken) no advice, I take opinions from everyone and then focus on my campaign.”
Infantino has been given the backing of his own federation, which has 53 voting members, and South America’s CONMEBOL, which has 10. His camp also believe he has support in the Caribbean, and on Monday Infantino said he expected to get more than half the 54 votes in Africa, even though the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has backed Salman.
CAF’s endorsement of Salman is not binding on its members and African countries have usually voted contrary to their confederation’s recommendation in previous FIFA elections.
“I‘m very confident that I have those votes because I met personally the vast majority of presidents from African associations,” said Infantino.
“You look at them in the eyes, they look you in the eyes then you see if they are just telling you what you want to hear, or they are honest and truthful about what they say.”
Additional reporting by Iain Axon; Editing by Mark Trevelyan