African football leaders urge backing for Blatter
Sepp Blatter won more support on Monday as the Confederation of African Football advised its members to back the FIFA president in his re-election bid.
However, the African endorsement was less emphatic than unanimous support Blatter received from football leaders in Europe, South America and Oceania.
''Following a secret ballot, the CAF executive committee voted in majority to support the incumbent (Blatter),'' the African governing body said in a statement.
Qatari challenger Mohamed bin Hammam is expected to get widespread support from the 53-nation region when FIFA's 208 members vote in their own secret ballot on June 1 in Zurich.
Bin Hammam made two campaign trips to Africa last month and earned goodwill when Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid sponsored the 2010 CAF general assembly.
The CAF ruling panel showed more unity in giving ''full support and solidarity'' to two of its four FIFA delegates who face bribery allegations.
Issa Hayatou, the CAF president, and Jacques Anouma have been accused in England of taking $1.5 million bribes to vote for Qatar's winning bid last December.
CAF said the allegations are ''unfounded'' after they were published by British lawmakers last week using evidence from a newspaper investigation.
''The members rejected vigorously the irresponsible statements, without proof, made by The Sunday Times before the British parliament,'' the Hayatou-led executive committee said.
Hayatou, a 21-year incumbent of FIFA's high command from Cameroon, and Anouma, who joined FIFA in 2007 from Ivory Coast, deny any wrongdoing.
British lawmakers also released the newspaper's previously unpublished claims that Qatari payments were arranged by an African middleman, Amadou Diallo, who had been an aide to Hayatou.
FIFA has asked England's Football Association to help provide supporting evidence before it investigates possible unethical behavior.
The FIFA ethics committee previously suspended four African officials using evidence from an earlier Sunday Times undercover probe.
In the highest profile case, Nigerian official Amos Adamu received a three-year ban for soliciting bribes.
Adamu was barred from voting in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup contests and later lost his seat on the FIFA and CAF executive committees. He has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Amadou Diakite from Mali and Tunisian lawyer Slim Aloulou left the CAF ruling panel this year while serving FIFA suspensions. Diakite has appealed to CAS.