London - Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and Russia on Wednesday declared backing for UEFA executive Gianni Infantino's bid to become FIFA president.
The European confederation's general secretary is locked in a battle with four other candidates ahead of the February 26 vote for a successor to Sepp Blatter leading football's corruption-rocked body.
Ferguson is an ambassador for UEFA whose name could help the Swiss-Italian.
Russia has already come out for Infantino but gave a strong new sign of backing when Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko met him in Moscow on Wednesday.
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Russia has particular sway in eastern Europe and Mutko said Infantino "is capable of resolving numerous problems to make football the main issue for FIFA."
"Today we discussed details of the election campaign and again expressed our support to Infantino," R-Sport news agency quoted him as saying.
Ferguson praised Infantino's "professionalism, discipline, organisational ability and knowledge of the game" in a video message on Infantino's website.
Infantino, 45, is up against Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain, South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale, Jordan's Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, a former FIFA vice-president, and former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France.
Sheikh Salman and Infantino are seen as the frontrunners but all are criss-crossing the globe in search of votes.