Kuala Lumpur - The Asian Football Confederation on Thursday backed Michel Platini to take over FIFA, saying he would help ensure a smooth transition for the world governing body from the scandal-tainted Sepp Blatter era.
The endorsement by the AFC is an important one for the European football boss, who 24 hours earlier confirmed he would run for FIFA president for which he is considered the front-runner.
Blatter announced he was standing down, shortly after being re-elected as president in June, following the emergence of a major corruption scandal.
The election is set for February 26 next year
"We have of course noted Michel Platini's decision to stand, and he is certainly a unique candidate who would bring stability and a smooth transition to normality for FIFA in this difficult situation," an AFC statement quoted its President Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa as saying.
"In order to stabilise, (FIFA) needs leadership, experience and new ideas, but above all it needs football to be placed at its heart."
He called on the 47-member AFC to "remain as united as possible behind the single best candidate."
Platini, 60, a former Juventus and France star who heads European governing body UEFA, is on a shortlist of declared and likely candidates that includes Prince Ali bin al Hussein of Jordan, and South Korean billionaire Chung Mong-Joon, who confirmed his candidacy earlier Thursday.
Platini has made increasing calls for reform of the world body in recent months.
These have been heightened since US authorities charged 14 people - including seven FIFA officials who were arrested in Zurich in May - with corruption.
The statement by the Kuala Lumpur-based AFC, which had been a key supporter of Blatter, said "we should also remember that the FIFA president is only one part of FIFA, which is why it is so important to get the reforms right".
"Everybody accepts the need for change in FIFA, and in addition to changing the president much of the rest of FIFA's organisation and the way it functions need to be modernised as well," the AFC president said, without giving specifics.