Monrovia - At least 26 African countries will defy their
continental confederation and not vote for Sheikh Salman of Bahrain in
the FIFA presidential election, the outspoken head of the Liberia soccer
federation said Monday.
Musa Bility, who himself failed an
integrity check to stand in the Feb. 26 election, said he had spoken to
representatives of nearly half of Confederation of African Football
"Let me tell you" they won't back Salman, Bility told The Associated Press.
Football Association President Bility also said he had sent a letter to
the head of FIFA's election committee demanding he step down over a
"conflict of interest." Domenico Scala should resign because he has the
same Swiss nationality as one of the candidates, UEFA secretary general
Gianni Infantino, Bility said.
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"None of the admitted candidates
has raised this matter to date, which makes it evident that Mr. Scala's
impartiality is not put in question by any of them," FIFA ad-hoc
election committee spokesman Andreas Bantel said.
Sheikh Salman, the Asian Football Confederation president, was publicly
endorsed in the FIFA election by CAF, apparently a major boost to his
chances. CAF urged its 54 member countries to vote for the Bahraini
Africa, with the largest number of voting members out of
the continental confederations, is set to be a significant battleground
in the vote.
But Bility's comments followed assertions by some of
Salman's rival candidates that an endorsement by CAF's executive
committee does not translate into widespread support among the
confederation's member countries.
"As a nation we have the right
(to vote for who we want)," Bility said on Monday. "Our rights are not
tied with the rights of the executive committee of CAF."
association announced in the hours after CAF's public show of support
for Sheikh Salman that it would instead be voting for Prince Ali of
Jordan. Prince Ali said Egypt had also promised him its vote, while
South Sudan declared its support for Infantino.
There are five
candidates in the running to succeed Sepp Blatter. Salman, Infantino,
Ali, former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France and South African
businessman Tokyo Sexwale. Salman and Infantino appear to be the
Also Monday, six Central European federations confirmed their support for Infantino.
Czech Republic, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland, and Slovakia will vote
for the UEFA secretary general, according to Austria federation
president Leo Windtner.
"Our candidate is Gianni Infantino. That's
obvious. We discussed it extensively today," Windtner said following an
annual meeting of the six federations.
Windtner called on all European federations to back Infantino in the five-candidate race.
is that in the past UEFA has not always acted as a unity, has acted
without a clear strategy," Windtner said. "So it will be necessary to
act together toward the FIFA congress as there are some very respectable
other candidates from other confederations."
In January, UEFA gave strong but not total support for its secretary general's quest.
can count on a big majority of the 53 European federations for FIFA
votes, having served as their top administrator since 2009.
Malta has said it will vote for Prince Ali, who got votes from across
Europe when he lost to Blatter 133-73 in May, and other UEFA members
have publicly expressed doubts about Infantino.
federations have not yet discussed which candidate would be their second
preference if Infantino didn't make it beyond the first round of
A two-thirds majority of eligible voters is required to
win in the first round, and a simple majority will clinch the presidency
in subsequent rounds.
Hungary federation president Sandor Csanyi,
a UEFA executive committee member, said he was "sure that during the
first round Gianni will be among the ones who got the most votes so
Gianni will be in the second round."
The Central European
federations started their annual meetings in 2012 to exchange ideas on
national and international issues in football, and strengthen their
joint voice in UEFA matters.