South Sudan is supporting President Sepp Blatter in its first election since joining FIFA in 2012, 10 months after becoming a country.
Blatter has “good support” throughout Africa because he takes soccer to all parts of the world, said Gilbert Assouline, an adviser to South Sudan’s association. He said its delegation hadn’t discussed among themselves the impact of yesterday’s arrests of two FIFA vice presidents and other soccer officials on corruption charges.
“We didn’t discuss it at all,” Assouline, who wore an enamel badge with the country’s flag on his blazer lapel, said as he entered the Hallenstadion in Zurich for the opening ceremony.
South Sudan, which has yet to win an international match, got approval from FIFA for a $500,000 grant to build a football association headquarters two months after it became a member. Asked by a reporter if they’d received any bribes before the vote, Assouline said, “We haven’t received something, and we haven’t asked for anything.”
The president of the Trinidad and Tobago soccer association, Raymond Tim Kee, said “it’s quite possible” the arrests will change voting. His predecessor Jack Warner was among those charged in the U.S. and is awaiting an extradition hearing after surrendering to Trinidad police. “It’s a people thing based on emotions.”
Blatter remains the favorite to beat his only challenger Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan in tomorrow’s secret vote of 209 member associations.
“On Monday, I thought President Blatter would easily win the elections,” Randolph Harris, president of the Barbados soccer association said. “Now I’m not so sure anymore.”