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MOSCOW, February 8. /TASS/. President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino could unite their efforts ahead of the upcoming FIFA presidential election, to be held later this month, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS on Monday.
"It was their mutual message inititally, but at the moment each of them thinks that he is the frontrunner," Mutko, who is also the president of the Russian Football Union (RFU) and a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, said in an interview with TASS.
"However, one must not love football only within himself, but must love football on the whole," Mutko said.
"When there is a formal support from Asia and Africa, then you are certainly the frontrunner," Mutko said. "But I am not sure that all African federations would support him [Sheikh Salman]. Moreover, I do know that not all African federations will do that."
"But it does not mean that he is an unsuitable candidate," the FIFA official said. "He is a strong and a good candidate, but Europe has its own candidate and he is Gianni Infantino. Russia’s stance is very simple as we want them to come to terms eventually and lay out all their trump cards on the table."
Last Friday South Africa’s ex-Minister of Housing Construction Tokyo Sexwale announced his withdrawal from the FIFA presidential election, slated for February 26, leaving only four candidates running for the post: UEFA Secretary General Gianni Infantino, FIFA Vice President and Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, former-FIFA Secretary General Jerome Champagne and President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.