Blatter Denies Backing Al Serkal to Succeed Bin Hammam as AFC Boss

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Al Serkal is talking up his chances of securing the AFC presidency, but Sheikh Salman appears favourite (INSIDER)
(WFI) FIFA president Sepp Blatter denies he is backing UAE Football Association head Yousuf Al Serkal for the Asian Football Confederation presidency.

Al Serkal was quoted in reports on Sunday saying he had the support of the FIFA chief 10 days out from the AFC presidential election in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“I was looking for his blessing, and I definitely felt that I have it,” Al Serkal told media in Dubai, referring to his meeting with the Swiss in Zurich a few weeks ago. “My discussion with him was very open, and I left FIFA with much more comfort then when I entered.”

FIFA issued a statement on Monday in a bid to clarify Blatter’s position.

“Contrary to what has been reported in the media, the FIFA president, in accordance with his full commitment towards the neutrality of his function as well as the autonomy of the confederations to manage their own business, has at no time provided his backing to any of the candidates for the upcoming election to the AFC Presidency,” FIFA said.

Al-Serkal is up against Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, Saudi Arabia's Hafez Ibrahim Al Medlejand and Thailand’s FIFA vice-president Worawi Makudi in the elections on May 2.

The AFC vice president told INSIDER that his campaign was “looking positive. I am happy with it. I am confident”.

But Sheikh Salman, who has the backing of the Olympic Council of Asia, appears to be favourite to succeed Mohamed Bin Hammam. The Qatari was handed a life ban from FIFA in December following allegations of financial mismanagement of AFC funds during his presidency.

However, the Bahraini is under fire over allegations of human rights abuse in his home country.

Defending the human rights abuse allegations at a press conference last week, he said claims that footballers were among the thousands of anti-government protestors detained during Arab Spring-inspired uprisings were not a matter for the Bahrain Football Association.

By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson

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