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Sheikh Salman to join FIFA’s presidental race

Asian football chief Sheikh Salman has joined the FIFA presidential race contest, reports from Press Association Sport say.

Salman has given his backing to Michel Platini, but following the Frenchman’s suspension by FIFA’s ethics committee he lost faith in Platini and decided to run himself. He is expected to announce his formal candidacy before Tuesday’s emergency meeting of the FIFA executive committee in Zurich.

This would seriously decrease the chances of Platini becoming president, as he would need to be cleared of wrongdoing over a $2 million payment to him from FIFA president Sepp Blatter. Salman’s move would also decrease the chances of Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan.

The development then followed a meeting of UEFA’s 54 associations in Nyon, who remained split over their support for Platini, some even backed an alternate candidate such as Holland’s Michael Van Pragg.

UEFA’s general secretary Gianni Infantino told the conference in Nyon that the FIFA presidential election on February 26 should not be stopped.

“There was a discussion if there should be a European candidate or not. This is something that will be discussed by UEFA representatives on the FIFA ExCo next week together with members of other confederations and we see if another from Europe comes up or someone from another confederation” Infantino added.

Platini and Blatter have been provisionally banned by the ethics committee over a payment made in 2011. The case is also being investigated by the Swiss attorney general.

After the meeting in Nyon, UEFA has also said that the appeal process has to be done by mid-November.

“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 instances involved in the current process: FIFA’s ethics committee, FIFA’s appeal committee and ultimately the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to work very rapidly to ensure that there is a final decision on the merits of the case by, at the latest, mid-November 2015.” the statement said.

Infantino also said, “We need to have a final decision. The rest is speculation and condemnation without due process, and it is a bit unfair.”, he also criticized the “leaks” that have come out about the case.

“What’s really disappointing is all the leaks coming out. It’s not fair that you (the media) know before the person who is accused or suspended. It’s not what we call fair process or trial, it just pushes a condemnation without a decision and this is not correct.” Infantino added.

UEFA Vice President Angel Villar Llona has rejected the term ‘interim president’ out of respect for Platini. He is also under investigation by FIFA’s ethics committee over the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bidding processes.