Prince Ali is standing against Sepp Blatter in Friday's election and although Blatter is strongly favoured to win
UEFA members to back Jordan's Prince Ali as FIFA president
A majority of UEFA's member associations will vote for Jordan's Prince Ali bin Al Hussein to succeed Sepp Blatter as the next FIFA president, UEFA President Michel Platini said on Thursday.
"A large majority of the European associations will all vote for Prince Ali," Platini told a news conference in Zurich, a day after several senior FIFA officials were arrested on US corruption charges.
Platini said that during Thursday morning's emergency meeting at FIFA, he told Blatter to step down in light of the scandal that has engulfed the world football body.
"I said, I'm asking you to leave, FIFA's image is terrible. He said that he couldn't leave all of a sudden."
Platini added: "I'm saying this with sadness and tears in my eyes, but there have been too many scandals, FIFA doesn't deserve to be treated that way.”
Australia to vote against Blatter
The first cracks in Asia's support for embattled FIFA boss Sepp Blatter emerged 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.
Prince Ali is standing against him in Friday's election and although Blatter is strongly favoured to win, the FFA said it was time for a new leader.
Putin backs Blatter
Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Russia's right to host the 2018 soccer World Cup on Thursday and accused the United States of meddling outside its jurisdiction in the arrest of top officials from world governing body FIFA.
Putin said the arrests in Switzerland on Wednesday were an ‘obvious attempt’ to prevent FIFA head Sepp Blatter's re-election this week but that the 79-year-old had Russia's backing.
"If anything happened, it did not happen on US territory and the United states has nothing to do with it," he said. "This is yet another blatant attempt (by the United States) to extend its jurisdiction to other states."
Putin said FIFA head Blatter, who is standing for re-election to a fifth term at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on Friday, had been pressured to strip Russia of its rights to host the 2018 World Cup and lambasted Washington's extradition requests.
"Unfortunately, our American partners use such methods to achieve their selfish aims and illegally persecute people," he said, citing former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, both of whom have evaded prosecution in the United States by hiding abroad.
"I do not rule out that in the case of FIFA, it's exactly the same," Putin said.