Wellington: New Zealand Football (NZF) said Friday it was dropping long-standing support for embattled FIFA president Sepp Blatter and will vote for his rival Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan.
NZF had publicly backed Blatter to remain in charge of FIFA earlier this week but president Mark Aspden said the emerging corruption scandal showed real change could not be implemented under the Swiss supremo.
“Given the developments in the past 48 hours — which have been deeply distressing for all of us who love football — New Zealand Football believes substantive change is now essential within FIFA as soon as possible to repair its tarnished reputation,” he said in a statement.
“The (NZF) executive committee believes that real change can only be implemented with a new president in place, and accordingly, we have opted to support the election of Prince Ali bin al Hussein.”
New Zealand is part of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the weakest of FIFA`s six regional groupings.
NZF chief executive Andy Martin said earlier Friday that he did not know how the other 10 OFC members would vote.
“Once we get into congress it`s every man for himself,” he told reporters from Zurich.
Martin said he was upset the scandal had overshadowed New Zealand`s hosting of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, which kicks off on Saturday.
Australia, which lost out to Qatar in the bidding to host the 2022 World Cup, has also thrown its backing to Prince Ali. It used to be in the OFC but is now part of the Asian football region.