MOSCOW, February 3. /TASS/. All candidates running for the presidential post in FIFA will gather for a meeting on February 17, Vitaly Mutko, a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, told journalists on Wednesday, but did not specify the venue for possible talks.
The officially registered candidates running for the post of the FIFA president in February 26 elections are: Gianni Infantino, FIFA Vice President and Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, South Africa’s ex-Minister of Housing Construction Tokyo Sexwale, former-FIFA Secretary General Jerome Champagne and President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
Mutko, who is also the Russian Sports Minister and the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and, said earlier in the day that Russia as the European country would back the candidacy of UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino at the February 26 presidential election. However, Mutko added that a single candidate was needed to represent Europe, Asia and Africa.
"Today I received a phone call from Sheikh Salman and we discussed this issue," Mutko said. "If there was a single candidate from Asia and Europe we would have all backed him up and had more chances."
"We spoke about February 17, when the candidates will meet each other again," Mutko said. "A real situation concerning the support will be laid out on the table. The candidates will speak out so we will have a real situation on the preparations for the election."
Mutko and Infantino held bilateral talks on Wednesday in Moscow, where the UEFA official arrived to attend the official ceremony to unveil the Emblem for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Following the talks, Mutko told journalists "Today we reiterated support for Infantino on behalf of the Russian football authorities."
"We agree with the most of European countries and believe that Infantino is our candidate for FIFA presidency," Mutko added.
The high-ranking UEFA executive thanked Mutko and RFU for the "fantastic support" adding that it was an "honor" and he was very "proud of it."
Infantino also said that FIFA had been recently living through difficult times and it was very important to be strong at the moment.
A chain of corruption scandals rocked FIFA throughout last year. Everything flared up within an unprecedented scandal on the morning of May 27, one day before the 65th FIFA Congress in Zurich, where seven of the organization’s high-ranking officials were arrested in Switzerland on bribery, money laundering and corruption charges.
In the most recent development of events, the previously suspended FIFA and UEFA presidents, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini respectively, were both banned on December 21 for eight years by FIFA's Ethics Committee from all international football activities over allegedly illegal financial transfer from FIFA to Platini.
Blatter, 79, was reelected for his fifth consecutive four-year presidential term on May 29, when his only rival Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan pulled out after the first round of vote.
However, addressing a news conference in Zurich on June 2, Blatter said he decided to lay down his mandate at FIFA extraordinary elective Congress. FIFA announced in July that the election of the new president would be held next year on February 26.