NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A senior South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) official has said its seven members will vote for Frenchman Michel Platini in next year’s FIFA presidential elections.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has already backed Platini as his preferred candidate for football’s top job in the February elections, which have been forced by the worst crisis in FIFA’s 111-year history.
SAFF general secretary Anwarul Huq told Reuters on Wednesday that his organization would follow the AFC’s lead.
“The AFC chief has already backed Platini. We will go with the AFC,” he said. “At the end of the day, voting is an individual thing but we will go with AFC as we always do,” the Bangladeshi official added after the draw ceremony for the ninth SAFF Cup to be held in India later this year.
Swiss Sepp Blatter beat Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan to win a fifth term as FIFA president in May but four days later announced his decision to step down following the arrests of FIFA officials and others two days before the election.
Prince Ali has again joined the race for the FIFA top job, while former Asia vice-president Chung Mong-joon of South Korea is also in the fray.
Chung has accused the AFC of sending unsolicited letters to its members urging them to support Platini but FIFA has dismissed his complaint.
All India Football Federation general secretary Kushal Das echoed Huq’s view on SAFF’s stance on the election.
“We’ll go by what AFC says. Of course, there have to be more meetings before that. But whoever is elected, it won’t be a problem for us,” he added.
The South Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram will host the ninth SAFF Cup from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3, the eight-team tournament securing a title sponsor in Suzuki for the first time since it started in 1993.
Apart from the seven SAFF members — India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Maldives — Afghanistan will also compete in the tournament.
Editing by Ken Ferris