The South Sudan Football Association (SSFA) has endorsed the incumbent president of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) Gianni Infantino for re-election.
Speaking to Juba Echo Thursday, SSFA Spokesman Albino Kuek, confirmed the development and said the association has thrown its weight behind the Swiss-Italian football administrator “what he has done” to the national football governing body in Africa’s youngest country.
The endorsement makes South Sudan the first African FA to take such a decision, which came before they saw any potential challengers to Infantino and their manifesto, and before a date has been set for the next electoral Congress.
Asked whether the FA will change its stance if a more promising potential candidate emerges, Kuek said “Our decision is final and this position will not change even if a new candidate comes on board. Infantino has done so much to transform football in this country [South Sudan]”.
Earlier, Insideworldfootball, a sports news blog, revealed that FIFA’s administration had stepped into the election process by sending a templated letter to member associations, followed up by phone calls, telling them to fill in the blanks in the template to show their endorsement of Infantino and giving their pledge that they would not support another candidate.
According to the website, SSFA President Augustino Madout said his federation backed Infantino again because he had been a longstanding ally of football in the country.
“Infantino has stood with us even before he become president and when he became president, he supported us with the current works going on at the stadium so there will be no reason for us not to stand with him this time that’s why we chose to endorse him,” said Madout as quoted.
It’s not the first time that the SSFA has put its weight behind the Swiss football administrator. The SSFA, and its president Chabur Gor Alei, publicly supported Infantino’s 2016 FIFA presidential campaign. The world federation later banned Alei for a decade for misappropriation of funds and bribery.
Madout’s endorsement will be music to Infantino’s ear. At the recent congress – and to muted applause – he announced that he will stand for re-election next year. Behind the scenes, the FIFA supremo is already manoeuvring to ensure enough votes come his way for a third term. With 54 votes, Africa is once again a top priority for Infantino.