Kuala Lumpur: Asia`s football chief threw his support behind FIFA president Sepp Blatter`s re-election bid Saturday as the 78-year-old looked increasingly certain to win a fifth term.
Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who will also seek re-election next year, said the Swiss had done much for football in Asia.
On Friday Blatter, after several strong hints, announced his candidacy for elections in May and he looks set to win after UEFA leader Michel Platini said he would not challenge.
"Joseph S. Blatter has always been supportive of Asia and has placed great importance in the development of Asian football through various FIFA programmes," Shaikh Salman said on the AFC website.
"Our growth in world football can also be credited to the dynamic relationship that the AFC has with FIFA under the guidance of Mr. Blatter."
Shaikh Salman`s backing is significant for Blatter because the AFC includes 46 members, making it one of world body FIFA`s biggest confederations.
The Bahraini royal`s announcement said he "trusts that the Asian football family will be united in its support for the candidacy of Mr. Blatter".
Blatter`s only challenger so far in the May 29 election is Jerome Champagne, 56, a former FIFA deputy secretary-general from France.
His re-election bid is controversial after he pledged not to seek another term when he won his fourth four-year stint at the helm in 2011.
FIFA has also faced criticism over the bidding process for hosting the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which has been the subject of a long-running investigation.