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UEFA General Secretary Infantino joins FIFA presidential race

The field of candidates hoping to become FIFA president grew as a deadline to file the paperwork approached. Among the latest to throw his hat into the ring is UEFA's general secretary, Gianni Infantino.

UEFA, soccer's European governing body announced on Monday that its Executive Committee had thrown its support behind its general secretary for the top job at FIFA, which has been plagued by controversy in recent months.

"We are delighted that Gianni has agreed to stand," said a statement issued by UEFA following a meeting of its Executive Committee.

"Gianni has done a great job at UEFA, has a proven track record as a top class administrator and built positive relations with football stakeholders around the globe," it added.

"He has been a long-time advocate of the need for change and renewed development at FIFA and would bring a refreshing and informed voice to the top table of football's world governing body."

The statement said that Infantino would submit the paperwork required to make his candidacy official by the deadline to do so of midnight CET (23:00 UTC) on Monday.

Platini's candidacy in doubt

However, it did not clarify how Infantino's candidacy might affect that of UEFA President

Michel Platini, who earlier this month - along with Blatter - was slapped with a 90-day provisional FIFA ban

from all football-related activities.

This means that Platini, who a few weeks ago had been seen as the frontrunner in the race to replace Blatter, would not be able to submit the paperwork by the deadline. However, FIFA's Ethics Committee, which handed down the suspension, has not ruled out allowing him to register his candidacy at a later date, once the suspension has expired or if it is lifted.

Österreich Michel Platini beim UEFA-Kongress in Wien

Platini had been seen as the frontrunner

Platini included, there are a total of eight candidates who have declared their intention of seeking to replace Blatter, when a successor is elected at a special FIFA meeting on February 26.

Bahraini royal Shaikh Salman,

who has been at the helm of the Asian Football Confederation since 2013, announced his bid on Sunday.

Former anti-Apartheid campaigner Tokyo Sexwale,

who was once jailed alongside Nelson Mandela on Robben Island did so on Saturday.

Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein is running for a second time after having been the only challenger to the 79-year-old Blatter at the election held in May.

French former diplomat Jerome Champagne

who, spent 11 years working for FIFA between 1999 and 2010 has also thrown his hat into the ring, as has David Nakhid, the former Trinidad and Tobago captain.

The latest to announce his candidacy is the head of the Liberian Football Association, Musa Bility.

Absent from the list is South Korean businessman Chung Mong-Joon, who announced earlier on Monday that he was withdrawing because of a six-year ban imposed on him by FIFA.
pfd/jil (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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