Zurich - One of Michel Platini's main backers in his bid to head world soccer's governing body, Bahraini Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, might stand himself if a Swiss investigation hampers the Frenchman's candidacy, two sources have told Reuters.
Sheikh Salman, head of the Asian Football Confederation, had given a ringing endorsement to the European soccer chief as the man to lead FIFA out of a graft scandal that broke in May and has grown to the worst in its 111-year history.
But on Friday, Platini himself became embroiled in a Swiss inquiry into a 2 million Swiss franc payment in 2011 from veteran FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was placed under investigation for criminal mismanagement and misappropriation of funds.
Both Platini, a former French international, and Blatter, a Swiss national, deny wrongdoing over the affair.
Klaus Stoehlker, a confidant and former advisor to Blatter, told Reuters he understood that Salman is "carefully looking at the situation of the FIFA election" but has yet to make a decision on whether or not to enter the race.
Media reports in Qatar have suggested Salman might run in the February vote in Zurich if Platini dropped his bid.
Switzerland's Attorney General says that Platini is somewhere "between a witness and an accused person" in the investigation of the payment.
Asian soccer analyst Osama el-Shekh, a well-connected expert in gulf region football politics, said he has been made aware that AFC president Salman is waiting to see the outcome of the investigation into the payment.
"In the case that Platini decides not to stand, or if there is a reason, such as the Ethics Committee, that he cannot stand, then Sheikh Salman maybe will decide to stand," the Egyptian told Reuters.
Sheikh Salman's office was not available for comment.