AFC candidate Worawi seeks support in south Asia

NEW DELHI Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:35am GMT

Football Association of Thailand (FAT) President Worawi Makudi gestures after a news conference at the association office in Bangkok September 19, 2012. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

Football Association of Thailand (FAT) President Worawi Makudi gestures after a news conference at the association office in Bangkok September 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Chaiwat Subprasom

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Asian Football Confederation (AFC) presidential candidate Worawi Makudi of Thailand reached out to the South Asian members of the conference on Wednesday but the regional body said it has not made up its mind who to back yet.

"He called me this morning and we had a chat," South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) President Kazi Salahuddin told Reuters by telephone without revealing the details of his discussion with the Thai.

Two other candidates, Bahrain Football Association President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and UAE chief Yousuf Al Serkal, had also approached him regarding the May 2 election, Salahuddin said.

"I just listened to them," the SAFF chief said when asked if he had given his backing to a particular candidate.

FIFA Executive Committee member Worawi already has a headstart on his rivals after securing the support of 11 South-East Asian countries on Monday.

Saudi Arabian Hafez El Medle is the fourth candidate running for the post, while AFC acting president Zhang Jilong is widely expected to join the race by Sunday when the nomination deadline expires.

The AFC has been without a full-time president since Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar was banned for life by FIFA for corruption and bribery. China's Zhang has held the role of AFC acting president since May 2011.

Salahuddin said the eight-member SAFF would wait for the final list of nominees before deciding which candidate to support.

"We will have to see which way the wind blows," Salahuddin said. "We have not yet decided whom to support. We'll have to see the final list, think what would be good for South Asian football.

"The election is in May, so we have some time before that. Maybe we'll have a meeting in mid-April where we'll decide."

Considered a bin Hammam ally, Worawi could sew up 19 of the 46 votes if he wins SAFF support.

In 2011, FIFA launched a formal investigation after he was accused of spending $860,000 in football development grants for projects on land he personally owns. Soccer's world governing body eventually cleared him of any wrongdoing.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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