UEFA opened the door for Bahrain’s Sheik Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa to be their candidate for the FIFA presidency following the fall of Michel Platini.
It is expected the Asian Football Confederation president will announce he is running to succeed Sepp Blatter when FIFA’s executive committee meets in Zurich next Tuesday.
UEFA’s 54 countries played for time on Thursday by giving their tarnished president Platini a month to clear his name.
But this bare minimum backing for Platini cleared the way for another FIFA presidential candidate to emerge before the October 26 deadline and Sheik Salman is going to be that man with backing from Europe, Asia and South America.
The European countries agreed that Platini deserved a proper process to judge whether the £1.35million consultancy payment he received from Sepp Blatter, which was delayed for nine years, was above board. A mid-November deadline has been set by UEFA for the Council of Arbitration for Sport to rule on the matter.
The election for FIFA president will be held on February 26. UEFA’s plan to support a consensus candidate in Sheik Salman, which is supported by the four home nations, is expected to be rubber-stamped when the UEFA representatives sitting on the FIFA executive have discussions with the Bahraini in Zurich
Earlier in the day, FA chairman Greg Dyke had told FA councillors that English football would withdraw their backing for Platini if doubts remained about that 2011 payment, for which there is no written contract.
The UEFA statement read: ‘We support Michel Platini’s right to a due process and a fair trial and to the opportunity to clear his name. We strongly call on all involved FIFA’s ethics committee, FIFA’s appeal committee and ultimately the Court of Arbitration for Sport to work very rapidly to ensure there is a final decision by, at the latest, mid-November.’