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There could be surprises in FIFA election - van Praag

17 April 2015, 09:18

Nassau, Bahamas - CONCACAF's congress witnessed an outburst of support for incumbent Sepp Blatter ahead of next month's FIFA presidential election but one of his rivals Dutch FA chief Michael van Praag believes that does not tell the whole story.

Blatter's electoral machine is in full-swing with Africa, South America and the CONCACAF regions already looking strong for him, though van Praag said many of those opposed to the Swiss may be keeping their heads down before the May 29 vote.

All three candidates running against Blatter -- van Praag, Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein and former Portugal international Luis Figo -- spent time in the Bahamas meeting delegates privately, as they have been doing in other regions.

"We knew in advance there was support for Mr Blatter in this region," Van Praag told Reuters in reference to 10 Caribbean and Central American federations speaking in support of Blatter while none publicly backed his three opponents.

"But I know from my meetings that there also countries in CONCACAF that want a change, they are sure of that and they are not going to vote for Mr Blatter."

Van Praag said reluctance to make opposition to Blatter public ahead of the vote is not limited to the CONCACAF region.

"I was in Africa at their congress in Cairo last week and there are delegates from African countries who also want a change now and who read the various programmes of Prince Ali, Luis Figo and myself," van Praag added.

"They keep their cards close to their chest and they don't want to disclose to others what they are going to do.

"The FIFA congress has a secret ballot, so there can be surprises."

Van Praag could expect support from Dutch speaking territories in the region, Suriname, Curacao and Aruba while Prince Ali has been nominated by CONCACAF's biggest federation -- the United States.

Figo, while unhappy with the fact that only Blatter was allowed to address the congress, also indicated he had picked up backing in the region that has 35 votes.

"I leave the Bahamas with important support in the Americas and a strengthened will to implement changes," he told Reuters.

The three will meet next month to discuss their strategy for the vote.

"We will sit together sometime in May and see what the situation is," said Van Praag.

"Everybody is trying to shoot holes in the defence wall of Mr. Blatter. That is good ... I am very satisfied with the situation".

- Reuters


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