Sheikh Salman is CAF-approved (Getty)

(WFI) The Confederation of African Football (CAF) is backing Sheikh Salman in the Bahraini royal’s bid to replace Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.

The CAF executive committee, following a meeting in Kigali, Rwanda on Friday, said in a statement “While respecting the principle of democracy, the sovereignty, and latitude of each member association to vote for the candidate of its choice, the Executive Committee urges all the 54 member associations of the Confédération Africaine de Football to reserve their votes for Shaikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa during the 26 February 2016 elections for the presidency of FIFA in Zurich.”

Africa’s 54 members represent a large portion of the total of 209 FIFA voters who are eligible to cast a ballot. Not surprisingly, it’s believed that the candidate who gets the support of Africa will be a big favorite.

Sheikh Salman, the current Asian Football Confederation head, already had the support of the AFC membership. That and CAF’s decision on Friday puts him firmly in front of UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino, who has the backing of many European as well as Central and South American members.

Sheikh Salman, in a statement, said “The two endorsements only mean that there is a strong groundswell in favor of my candidacy.  What they don’t mean is that I can sit back and relax.”

Jerome Champagne, Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein, and Tokyo Sexwale are also in the race for the FIFA presidency.

Sexwale, a South African businessman, was hopeful his continental confederation would back him but it appears now that his campaign is done. Sexwale told reporters that he is staying in the race despite CAF announcing after their meeting Friday that Sexwale had withdrawn “in order to support the interests and unity of African football.”


By INSIDER Gerard Farek

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