FIFA presidential candidates to meet in Moscow for talks on Feb 17

Moscow, Feb 4 (IANS) All candidates running for the FIFA presidential post will gather here for a meeting on February 17, Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has said without specifying the venue for the talks. Mutko is a member of the world football governing body’s executive committee.

The officially registered candidates running for the post of the FIFA president in February 26 elections are: Gianni Infantino, FIFA vice president and Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale, former-FIFA secretary General Jerome Champagne and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, reports Tass.

Mutko, also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) said Russia would back the candidacy of European football’s secretary general Gianni Infantino at the February 26 presidential election.

However, Mutko added that a single candidate was needed to represent Europe, Asia and Africa.

“Today I received a phone call from Sheikh Salman and we discussed this issue. If there was a single candidate from Asia and Europe we would have all backed him up and had more chances,” Mutko said on Wednesday.

“We spoke about February 17, when the candidates will meet each other again. A real situation concerning the support will be laid out on the table. The candidates will speak out so we will have a real situation on the preparations for the election.”

Mutko and Infantino held talks here on Wednesday, where the latter arrived to attend the official ceremony to unveil the emblem for the 2017 Confederations Cup. The 2018 World Cup will be hosted by Russia.

Following the talks, Mutko said: “Today we reiterated support for Infantino on behalf of the Russian football authorities.”

“We agree with the most of European countries and believe that Infantino is our candidate for FIFA presidency,” he added.

Infantino thanked Mutko and RFU for the “fantastic support” adding that it was an “honour” and he was very “proud of it.”

Infantino also said that world football governing body FIFA had been recently living through difficult times and it was very important to be strong at the moment.

A chain of corruption scandals rocked FIFA last year forcing eight year suspensions of FIFA president Sepp Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini.

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