European football’s governing body initially said it supported a postponement in the wake of Wednesday’s revelations in Zurich and the United States.
But president Michel Platini arrived in Switzerland on Thursday to chair a meeting of UEFA’s member associations, “a very big majority” of whom decided instead to unite behind Sepp Blatter’s sole rival.
Platini then faced a press conference and revealed he had told Blatter “face-to-face” and “like a friend” the time had come to stand down, with two FIFA-related criminal investigations now in full swing.
“I feel pain in my stomach,” the Frenchman said of the allegations facing current and former FIFA officials arrested on Wednesday as part of a United States-led investigation. “As someone who has??worked with FIFA for many years, I am absolutely sickened.
“A big, big big majority of the European associations will vote for Prince??Ali. People have had enough, they don’t want this president any more.
“I asked (Blatter) for a face-to-face meeting, and I said, ‘Look Sepp, we started at??Fifa in 1998, and for the future of FIFA, I am here to ask you to leave, to??resign’. I speak like a friend with him. He said it was too late.”
In the meantime battle lines ahead of the vote have been drawn as far afield as Downing Street and the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin announcing Russia’s continued support for Russia and a spokesman for David Cameron confirming the Prime Minister is backing the Football Association’s pro-Prince Ali stance.
FA chairman Greg Dyke told Sky Sports News??there is genuine belief the Jordanian can now prevent Blatter winning a fifth term as president.
He said: “Prince Ali was pretty confident before the events of yesterday. I suspect he’s even more confident now. I think Prince Ali could win, in which case we’ve achieved what we came here to do which is to say goodbye to Mr Blatter.”
His optimism is shared by his Scottish FA counterpart Stewart Regan, who said:??”Prince Ali has now come into focus and from conversations in the??UEFA hotel last night is being seen as a very credible candidate – and a??potential candidate to unite other confederations as well.”
Australia, part of the pro-Blatter??Asian Football Confederation, has also come out in support of Prince Ali.
A statement from the Football Federation of Australia read:??”FFA believes that profound change within FIFA is needed as soon as possible to address issues of governance and transparency.”
But Blatter can count on the continued support of the??Confederation of African Football, which has pledged to back the president en masse and on Thursday said the election should go ahead as planned.
CONCACAF, the federation representing North and Central America, says it opposes a boycott.