February 17, 2016 / 8:09 PM / 3 years ago

English FA backs Infantino for FIFA president

UEFA General Secretary and FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino arrives for the regional meeting of National Football Associations in Belgrade, Serbia February 13, 2016. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

LONDON (Reuters) - Gianni Infantino has won the support of the English Football Association in his effort to win next week’s FIFA presidential election, chairman Greg Dyke said on Wednesday.

Five candidates will be standing on Feb. 26 to replace outgoing president Sepp Blatter, banned for eight years amid a widening graft scandal that has shaken world soccer’s ruling body.

“We decided we would back Gianni Infantino,” Dyke told Sky Sports television following a board meeting. “We did what we promised we would, I spoke to every candidate either in person or on the phone.

“We were impressed by Gianni. We were also impressed by Prince Ali but in the end we decided to go with the UEFA candidate.”

Swiss Infantino, general secretary of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, entered the race to succeed compatriot Blatter when UEFA chief Michel Platini was forced to pull out.

Platini and Blatter were banned for eight years in December over a payment of two million Swiss francs ($2.03 million) made to the Frenchman in 2011 by FIFA, with the president’s approval, for work done a decade earlier.

Infantino appears to have widespread backing in Europe and has been promised support from South and Central American countries.

The other election candidates are Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, ex-FIFA executive committee member Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne and South African Tokyo Sexwale, a former political prisoner who was jailed along with Nelson Mandela.

Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Tony Jimenez

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