The Latest: Infantino says FIFA can afford cash handouts
ZURICH (AP) The Latest on the FIFA presidential election (all times local):
Giannni Infantino says FIFA can afford to fund his proposed hike in cash handouts, dismissing the claim of presidential election rival Sheikh Salman that he would bankrupt FIFA.
The Bahraini royal told The Associated Press on Tuesday that FIFA faces a $560 million deficit in the 2015-18 cycle, with no new World Cup sponsors signed up as corruption investigations into soccer officials continue.
Infantino has committed to offering each of FIFA's 209 members $5 million to invest in development projects and running costs - a big increase on the $2.05 million per federation from 2011-14 - on top of other payouts.
Infantino told the AP on Wednesday that ''what is promised there is not feasible but is easy to deliver and FIFA will be as financially stable as never before.''
The UEFA general secretary maintains that ''once FIFA's image and reputation has been rebuilt it will be easier to generate more revenue and have more funds at our disposal for development of football, which is what FIFA should do to start with.''
Infantino - European soccer's top administrator - adds ''if there is one thing I know about it is figures.''
The FIFA presidential election is expected to have 207 voters because two countries are banned.
The FIFA executive committee has decided to refer the suspensions imposed last year on Kuwait and Indonesia to the election meeting on Friday, with a recommendation ''that both these cases be dealt with at the next ordinary Congress.''
That meeting is May 13 in Mexico City.
The suspensions, for allowing government interference in how federations are run, currently block Kuwait and Indonesia from voting.
The FIFA executive committee includes Sheikh Ahmad of Kuwait, who is an influential FIFA and Olympic powerbroker and key player in the campaign of Sheikh Salman, the Asian soccer confederation president.
In Friday's vote, 138 votes will be needed for a decisive win in the first round. Only 104 will be needed for victory in subsequent rounds.
Sepp Blatter says he felt abandoned by God when police arrested FIFA officials at a Zurich hotel last May, provoking a crisis that ousted him as president.
Blatter tells French sports daily L'Equipe that May 27 was ''the breaking point in my life, the day I would like to forget.''
He says: ''That day I said to myself `Even God has abandoned me.' When something like that falls on you, it's terrible.''
Despite the early morning raids nine months ago on the Baur au Lac hotel and FIFA headquarters, Blatter was re-elected two days later. However, he soon announced plans to resign under pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations, which have since targeted him.
In an interview conducted last week, Blatter says ''I don't know why they would have come for me, but yes, I was scared, even physically. Anyway, this kind of police raid is done to scare people.''
Gianni Infantino says he is sure that support promised by 10 South American voters last month will be delivered in Friday's FIFA election.
Late Tuesday, Paraguayan federation president Ramon Gonzalez said the 10-member CONMEBOL group would ''reach an agreement in our next meeting.'' It has a scheduled session Thursday.
Infantino tells The Associated Press in an interview that he has looked voters in the eye and ''I have absolutely no doubt about CONMEBOL.''
The 10 votes promised to the UEFA general secretary in Paraguay on Jan. 28 are included among public pledges that Infantino's campaign team say make him the front-runner ahead of Asian soccer president Sheikh Salman of Bahrain.
FIFA has asked presidential candidates to provide details of their intended victory speeches ahead of Friday's election.
The five contenders have also been provided by FIFA with suggested answers to use in the post-vote news conference.
Soccer's scandal-tarnished governing body is protective of its public image while trying to preserve its victim status in American criminal corruption investigations, attempting to prove a commitment to reform.
Candidate Gianni Infantino told The Associated Press that he will speak to the emergency congress ''without any fear and, on the contrary, saying what I think.''
In an interview on Wednesday, Infantino adds ''I will say whatever I want. I am my own man.''