President of the Barbados Football Association Randy Harris has thrown his support behind FIFA presidential candidate Gianni Infantino.
Infantino, a Swiss football administrator of Italian origin, has told the media he believes he can win February’s vote to replace Sepp Blatter at the helm of the crisis-hit global soccer body after picking up what he called major support in the Caribbean.
Infantino attended a weekend meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) which has 25 votes in the election, and won the backing of Harris. Infantino said he had “excellent feedback” from CFU members.
Harris said Infantino’s message about development programmes for countries outside the strongholds of soccer had been well received.
“His platform is about soccer and improving the game and of course a small country like Barbados we need that kind of vision,” Harris said.
Infantino is one of five candidates including Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, former FIFA deputy general secretary Jerome Champagne of France, South African businessman and politician Tokyo Sexwale and Jordanian former FIFA executive committee member Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan.
The corruption crisis within FIFA has broken apart the longstanding political loyalties within the Caribbean which had previously voted as a block for Blatter.
Prince Ali was beaten by 133-73 votes by Blatter in the last FIFA presidential election in May.
Infantino, who is currently general secretary of European soccer body UEFA, dismissed speculation of a deal with Sheikh Salman that the pair would avoid direct confrontation between the AFC and UEFA in the vote, possibly with the UEFA official taking on the general secretary role.
“I am going for the win. I am the candidate for the presidency and this support gives me even more responsibility and even more will to go until the end to become president of FIFA,” he said yesterday.
“I am candidate for president not for general secretary and I have support from all over the world and many more will come out… With a lot of respect for all the candidates of course, I am there to become FIFA president,” he added.
Infantino, who said he had proposed increasing funding for development programmess, said that Harris’s backing was a rare case of an FA publicly backing a candidate in a campaign where most are keeping their cards close to their chests.
“This is certainly a major support from outside of Europe. I think it is the first open support to any of the candidates from outside of their own continent’,” he said.
Infantino said his manifesto plans, which will be unveiled this week, had been at the center of his presentation.
“I spoke about reforms that are needed for FIFA, I spoke about having associations participate much more in FIFA life, for FIFA to become a real democracy,” he said.