Infantino ‘to withdraw’ from FIFA election if Platini stands

FIFA presidential candidate, Gianni Infantino, will withdraw from the race if suspended UEFA boss Michel Platini is allowed to stand.

Platini and outgoing president Sepp Blatter are under investigation over a payment made to the Frenchman by the Swiss.

Both men deny any wrongdoing but are still serving a 90-day ban from all football-related activities.

And Infantino, the UEFA general secretary, vowed to withdraw from FIFA’s presidential election if Platini is cleared.

“Platini is my president and I’ve worked with him for nine years. It’s clear that I have his support, otherwise I would not be running,” Infantino said.

“And there is another thing that must be clarified.

“My candidacy is not in opposition to Michel. If he is able to stand, I will withdraw. It’s a simple principle of loyalty. But right now I am a candidate 100 per cent and I’m moving forward, not only for Europe but for world football.”

Alongside Platini and Infantino, Asian football leader Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa of Bahrain, Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, former South African politician Tokyo Sexwale, Liberian federation president Musa Bility and former FIFA official Jerome Champagne have all submitted official bids for the presidency of world football’s governing body coming up in February 26.

Infantino also outlined his aims should he become FIFA president, saying he intended to expand the World Cup beyond its current 32-team format to 40 teams in a move similar to the growth of the European Championship from 16 to 24 teams.

“It created a completely new dynamic in the qualification. It created new enthusiasm,” he said.

“If you are serious about developing football, it must involve more associations in the best football event in the world: the World Cup.”