Salman congratulates Infantino after his election win in Zurich last month (Getty)

(WFI) Defeated FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has restated support for Gianni Infantino’s mission to clean-up the scandal-ravaged world football federation.

Following a meeting of the Asian Football Confederation executive committee in Kuala Lumpur, the ruling body and Salman underlined their backing for the new FIFA chief. The ExCo also claimed to be united behind their AFC leader.

“The AFC recognises that these have been difficult times for FIFA, but now, united as one family, we believe that you can produce a brighter future for the game which is close to so many people’s heart on this continent,” Salman and his ExCo said in a letter to Infantino.

It added that Asian football leaders and its member associations were committed to FIFA reforms “which we believe is an important starting point in bringing about the needed change in fortunes.

“We now reiterate that you can always rely on Asia’s support as you take on the duties and challenges of being FIFA president during the next three years.”

In a statement, the AFC’s ruling body also emphasized its support for Sheikh Salman’s continued leadership of the continental body.

“Our objective now has to be a united Asia – One Asia, One Goal – and I am delighted to be back among my colleagues,” he responded.

On Wednesday, the AFC reiterated long-term objectives to become the world’s leading football confederation. Under the ‘One Asia, One Goal’ initiative, the AFC Executive Committee also pledged to further strengthen ties with other football bodies.

“Our stated ambition is to increase engagement with the billions of potential football fans across this continent, as well as becoming the world’s leading confederation,” said at the meeting.

“The AFC will continue to work closely with other confederations – strengthening our links with CAF, CONCACAF, UEFA and OFC as well as building on the understanding we have with other key stakeholders.

“We must work harder than ever at the AFC to sustain the momentum Asian football is gathering on the global stage. However, we need, as we said in the ‘Vision and Mission’ [statement], to make our teams stronger so we can close the gap on world football powerhouses.

“That must be our focus in the coming months and years.”

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, was named host of the AFC 2016 Annual Awards night in November.

After losing to Infantino in the closely contested FIFA election on Feb. 26, Salman returns to Zurich next week for several days of FIFA meetings including the executive committee on March 17-18.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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