FA to abstain in Fifa presidential election

The Football Association will abstain in next month's FIFA presidential election.

FA chiefs had all but ruled out supporting current incumbent Sepp Blatter and last week's fresh allegations of World Cup bidding corruption involving Qatar made it increasingly likely that they would abstain in the vote on June 1.

Blatter's opponent is Mohamed Bin Hammam, whose own candidacy has been tarnished by claims in Parliament last week that two FIFA members were paid 1.5million dollars to vote for Qatar 2022 - he played the key role in securing the tournament for his country.

FA chairman David Bernstein said in a statement today: "There are a well-reported range of issues both recent and current which, in the view of The FA board, make it difficult to support either candidate.

"The FA values its relationships with its international football partners extremely highly.

"We are determined to play an active and influential role through our representation within both UEFA and FIFA.

"We will continue to work hard to bring about any changes we think would benefit all of international football."

It was known that at least one board member was planning to encourage fellow directors to register a protest by not voting for either candidate.

The board member told Press Association Sport: "The events of last week have not helped Bin Hammam, it would be very difficult to support Blatter so abstaining looks the most likely course."

Bernstein earlier made it clear that abstaining was one of three choices to be put to the FA board, along with voting for Blatter, from Switzerland, or Bin Hammam.

Bernstein admitted last week "it wouldn't go down very well" with the public if the FA board decided to vote for the 75-year-old Blatter.

He said: "We will look at the recent events and take that on board. There are two candidates and three possible decisions, the other being that we will abstain."

One of the board members from the amateur game is Roger Burden, who withdrew his application to become FA chairman after the World Cup vote in December, saying he would have to work with FIFA and "I am not prepared to deal with people whom I cannot trust".

The Premier League members may have argued in favour of Bin Hammam - they have developed close links with the head of the Asian confederation - but evidently did not win a majority.