MELBOURNE, May 28 (Reuters) - The Asian Football Confederation has re-affirmed its support for embattled FIFA boss Sepp Blatter and pushed for Friday’s presidential election to go ahead despite the corruption scandal that has rocked soccer’s global governing body.
The AFC, which represents 47 member nations, has been a steadfast ally of the 79-year-old Swiss and the bloc’s support will be vital for his hopes of clinging to the presidency for an fifth term.
“The Asian Football Confederation expresses its disappointment and sadness at Wednesday’s events in Zurich whilst opposing any delay in the FIFA Presidential elections to take place on Friday May 29 in Zurich,” the AFC said in a statement posted on its website (the-afc.com) on Thursday.
”The AFC is against any form of corruption in football and fully supports any actions taken by the independent FIFA Ethics Committee where wrongdoing may have occurred, whether such actions affect Asian officials or otherwise.
”The AFC is still undergoing its own process of reform and has taken many concrete steps in the last two years to improve governance in the Confederation, whilst recognising that there is still much work to do.
“Furthermore, the AFC reiterates its decision taken at the AFC Congress in Sao Paulo in 2014, endorsed at subsequent Congresses in Melbourne and Manama in 2015, to support FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.”
FIFA has been thrown into renewed crisis with the arrests of seven of the governing body’s most powerful officials in Switzerland on Wednesday over corruption allegations.
They are now waiting extradition to the United States where authorities have said nine soccer officials and five sports and promotions executives face corruption charges involving more than $150 million in bribes.
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Mulvenney