Asian federation still backs Blatter, wants elections Friday
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Asian Football Confederation says it still supports Sepp Blatter’s bid for another term as FIFA president, and opposes any move to delay Friday’s scheduled elections despite a fresh crisis in the sport’s global governing body.
FIFA was thrown into turmoil Wednesday when senior office holders from the Americas were among officials arrested by Swiss police at the request of U.S. authorities in a luxury Zurich hotel to face racketeering charges.
The emergence of fresh allegations of corruption, and the launch of an investigation by Swiss authorities into the awarding of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 to Qatar had prompted UEFA — the European soccer federation — to call for Friday’s vote to be put back.
Such a delay would allow for further revelation of the scope of the alleged corruption, and arguably boost the chances of presidential challenger Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein.
The AFC voted at its congress last year to support Blatter for a fifth four-year term, and was not swayed by Wednesday’s revelations or UEFA’s push for a delayed vote.
“The Asian Football Confederation expresses its disappointment and sadness at Wednesday’s events in Zurich whilst opposing any delay in the FIFA Presidential elections to take place on Friday,” said an AFC statement released Thursday.
“The AFC is against any form of corruption in football and fully supports any actions taken by the independent FIFA Ethics Committee where wrongdoing may have occurred, whether such actions affect Asian officials or otherwise.
“Furthermore, the AFC reiterates its decision taken at the AFC Congress in Sao Paulo in 2014, endorsed at subsequent congresses in Melbourne and Manama in 2015, to support FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.”
The sport’s regional governing body declined further comment.
The AFC experienced turmoil of its own after continental president Mohammed bin Hammam attempted to challenge Blatter for the presidency in 2011. Bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy, was accused of attempting to buy votes and was later banned for life by the ethics committee for financial wrongdoing involving AFC accounts.