SYDNEY (Reuters) - The first cracks in Asia’s support for embattled FIFA boss Sepp Blatter emerged on Thursday when Australia’s federation announced it would be voting for a new president at Friday’s election.
The Football Federation of Australia (FFA) had previously been a staunch ally of Blatter, voting for him at every election since he first assumed power in 1998.
But the FFA Chairman Frank Lowy AC released a statement after arriving in Switzerland, announcing Australia would switch its support to Prince Ali bin Al Hussein.
“FFA believes that profound change within FIFA is needed as soon as possible to address issues of governance and transparency,” the statement read. “This belief will be reflected when Australia casts its vote in the presidential election, should it proceed on Friday in Zurich.”
Australia’s announcement came just hours after the Asian Football Confederation released a statement reaffirming its support for Blatter.
Australia is one of 47 countries in the AFC. The Socceroos won the Asian Cup for the first time earlier this year, but the FFA has been increasingly critical of Blatter’s leadership of FIFA after losing out to Qatar in the vote to host the 2022 World Cup bid.
Blatter is under increasing pressure at world soccer’s governing body following the latest corruption scandal that has hit FIFA.
Prince Ali is standing against him in Friday’s election and although Blatter is strongly favored to win, the FFA said it was time for a new leader
“FFA believes that profound change within FIFA is needed as soon as possible to address issues of governance and transparency,” the statement read.
Reporting by Julian Linden in Singapore; Editing by Jeremy Gaunt