MANILA (Reuters) – Asian soccer head Shaikh Salman bin Al Khalifa reiterated his confederation’s support for Sepp Blatter in next year’s FIFA presidential elections despite reports that Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al Hussein may run for soccer’s top job.
The Jordanian royal, FIFA vice-president and a member of the AFC’s executive committee, was considering a bid to run against Blatter and Jerome Champagne after receiving support from UEFApresident Michel Platini, British media reported this week.
Prince Ali, in Manila for the AFC’s annual awards, has remained quiet on the prospect but Shaikh Salman suggested a candidacy against 78-year-old Blatter, who is seeking a fifth term in office, would be fruitless.
“We made it clear during the Brazil congress (in June) and even in the official nomination when President Blatter nominated himself and we all said that AFC is supporting of Sepp Blatter in the next election,” the Bahraini told a small group of reporters in the Filipino capital on Saturday.
“This is the decision by the congress and a decision by the exco. What I heard in the media is so far unofficial and I can’t comment on that. All I can comment on about is the official stand where the AFC and the exco have made it clear.
“I’m just focusing on what we have decided upon and agreed upon and I think that Jordan and Prince Ali were a part of that Congress.
“I think we made up our mind and we decided and that’s it. We are, let’s say, a nation that we don’t change our minds. Once we commit and we give our word then we are committed.”
The AFC have 46 voting members, with Shaikh Salman claiming 33 of them when he was elected president in May last year.
But since that election win he has endured a frosty relationship with Prince Ali, who could split some of the sizeable AFC vote at the FIFA Congress if he does choose to run.
One of the Bahraini’s first moves was to push through legislation to ensure the AFC president would take the FIFA vice president seat, with Prince Ali accusing Shaikh Salman of playing politics.
With Prince Ali’s four-year run in his AFC and FIFA positions ending in 2015, speculation remains rife about his next move.
It is unlikely he would willingly step down, meaning a challenge against Shaikh Salman in next year’s AFC elections, which are expected in April, or the AFC’s other FIFA Exco seat appears plausible.