Gianni Infantino has been backed in the race for FIFA presidency by a third bloc of member associations after CONMEBOL’s nations joined the UEFA general secretary’s European and Central America backers.
Infantino entered the race to replace the suspended Sepp Blatter in October and became a front-runner after UEFA president Michel Platini was provisionally suspended from all football activities alongside Blatter earlier that month.
Platini and Blatter are now serving eight-year bans in relation to a payment made from FIFA to the former France captain in February 2011. Earlier this month, Platini confirmed the withdrawal of his FIFA presidential candidacy, clearing the way for Infantino to press ahead with his campaign.
The 45-year-old Swiss has revealed an 11-point manifesto on his website, which pledged to increase the number of teams at World Cup finals to 40 and improve transparency throughout FIFA.
UEFA were quick to unanimously back their man, with Central America’s UNCAF and now South America’s associations putting Infantino in a position of strength.
A CONMEBOL statement read: “The Executive Committee of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) has decided to support the candidacy and the work plan of Mr. Gianni Infantino for the FIFA presidency.”
Infantino will contest the election against Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, Jerome Champagne, Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa and Tokyo Sexwale in Zurich on February 26.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) nations and those from the Confederation for African Football (CAF) – previously voting strongholds of Blatter’s – are yet to signal support for any of the candidates, although AFC president Sheikh Salman is expected to receive strong support from his member associations.
South African Sexwale has thus far struggled to gain support from CAF, which contains 54 of FIFA’s 209 members.
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