KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian football chief who lost to Gianni Infantino in the race for the FIFA presidency pledged support on Tuesday for the new leader but said scandal-tainted world football must focus on restoring trust.
Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa urged unity and support for the world body’s reform process in a letter to Infantino, FIFA’s executive committee and his fellow regional leaders.
“We need FIFA to change if we are going to regain the trust, respect and confidence of those who hold our great game to heart,” the Asian Football Confederation president wrote, according to a statement.
“I am confident that by working closely and consulting together, we will do the best for FIFA and restore much needed unity,” added the Bahraini royal.
“I have already assured the FIFA president that I will support him in achieving that goal and I am confident you will join me in this task.”
Sheikh Salman ran Infantino close, winning 85 ballots to Infantino’s 88 before he lost out 115-88 in the second round of voting.
Last week’s extraordinary congress in Zurich also approved a reform package aimed at hauling FIFA out of an era marked by corruption and controversy under suspended former leader Sepp Blatter.
“These reforms represent just the start of a long journey and are essential for achieving greater professionalism, transparency and integrity for FIFA as well as all our member associations,” Sheikh Salman wrote.
“We need FIFA to change if we are going to regain the trust, respect and confidence of those who hold our great game to heart.”