• Reuters


South Korean FIFA presidential hopeful Chung Mong-joon cannot bank on the support of neighboring Japan, FIFA executive committee member Kozo Tashima said Tuesday.

Tashima said he was pleased his good friend Chung was standing for president, but suggested Japan would instead vote at the Feb. 26 election for Michel Platini to head world soccer’s governing body.

“Of course as the same region, east Asia, we are so proud to have a candidate for FIFA (president),” the Japanese official told Reuters on Tuesday on the sidelines of an Asian Football Confederation conference.

“We haven’t decided who we will vote for, we should consider all candidates and the manifestos, what he is doing, what he has done.”

AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa last week declared his support for Platini. Around 30 to 35 of the AFC’s 46 members traditionally vote in unison with Salman, and Tashima said it was always important for Japan, one of the region’s wealthiest members, to be united with the rest of the confederation in electing leaders.

Chung, a former FIFA vice president, launched his bid to succeed Sepp Blatter on Monday in Paris, the home of UEFA president Platini.

Frenchman Platini is favorite to win the election and take charge of the scandal-hit governing body.

“We should discuss within the AFC. Sheikh Salman has already recommended Michel Platini,” former Japan international Tashima said.

“The AFC decided to support Blatter last time even against our very good friend Prince Ali as a candidate,” he added, referring to May’s FIFA election where the Swiss beat Jordanian Prince Ali bin al Hussein after receiving the support of Salman.

Ex-Brazil player Zico, former Trinidad and Tobago midfielder David Nakhid and Liberian FA chairman Musa Bility have also said they are running in the election, while Ali and South African Tokyo Sexwale are considering taking part.

Tashima said it was vital that whoever won the election brought about big changes in the running of the sport otherwise the body had no future.

He said he wanted to hear more about plans to abolish the executive committee from Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee .

U.S. prosecutors indicted nine soccer officials, most of whom had FIFA positions, and five marketing and broadcasting company executives, in May over a range of alleged offenses, including fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.

Blatter was re-elected for a fifth term as FIFA president on May 29, but four days later said he would lay down his mandate amid the worst crisis in the body’s history.

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