Liberia FA president Musa Bility (Photo: AFP)
The outspoken head of the Liberia Football Association says at least 26 African countries will defy their confederation and not vote for Sheikh Salman of Bahrain in the FIFA presidential election.
Salman, the Asian Football Confederation president, was publicly endorsed by the Confederation of African Football on Friday, a major boost to his election chances. CAF urged its 54 member countries to vote for the Bahraini royal.
But Liberia FA President Musa Bility, who failed an integrity check to stand in the Feb. 26 election, says he has spoken to representatives of nearly half of CAF's members, and they won't back Salman.
Bility says Liberia will vote for Prince Ali of Jordan to succeed Sepp Blatter.
Meanwhile, six Central European federations confirmed their support for Gianni Infantino.
Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland, and Slovakia will vote for the UEFA secretary general, according to Austria federation president Leo Windtner.
''Our candidate is Gianni Infantino. That's obvious. We discussed it extensively today,'' Windtner said following an annual meeting of the six federations.
Windtner called on all European federations to back Infantino in the five-candidate race.
''Fact is that in the past UEFA has not always acted as a unity, has acted without a clear strategy,'' Windtner said. ''So it will be necessary to act together toward the FIFA congress as there are some very respectable other candidates from other confederations.''
In January, UEFA gave strong but not total support for its secretary general's quest.
Infantino can count on a big majority of the 53 European federations for FIFA votes, having served as their top administrator since 2009.
However, Malta has said it will vote for Prince Ali, who got votes from across Europe when he lost to Blatter 133-73 in May, and other UEFA members have publicly expressed doubts about Infantino.
The two other candidates are former FIFA official Jerome Champagne of France, and South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale.
The six federations have not yet discussed which candidate would be their second preference if Infantino didn't make it beyond the first round of voting.
A two-thirds majority of eligible voters is required to win in the first round, and a simple majority will clinch the presidency in subsequent rounds.
Hungary federation president Sandor Csanyi, a UEFA executive committee member, said he was ''sure that during the first round Gianni will be among the ones who got the most votes so Gianni will be in the second round.''
The Central European federations started their annual meetings in 2012 to exchange ideas on national and international issues in football, and strengthen their joint voice in UEFA matters.
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)