BERNE (Reuters) - Suriname have pledged to support Michael van Praag in next month's FIFA presidential election, becoming the first national association to publicly promise their vote to the Dutchman.
"I am delighted that John Krishnadath, the president of the Suriname Football Association has expressed his support for me," said Van Praag, the Dutch FA (KNVB) president, on his website (www.michaelvanpraag.com).
"He had already informed me privately, but I appreciate his public statement immensely."
"The KNVB and myself have longstanding good relations with the Suriname association," added Van Praag
Van Praag, 67, is challenging Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency at the May 29 election alongside former Portugal forward Luis Figo and Jordanian Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein.
Blatter, 79, is seen as favourite to be elected for fifth mandate, although relatively few of the 209 national associations have publicly confirmed who they will vote for.
Van Praag's website also carried a copy of report by the Dutch national news agency ANP in which Krishnadath criticised the CONCACAF Congress earlier this month, where Blatter was given a public display of support.
Blatter, the only one of the candidates allowed to speak, was hailed as "the father of football" and compared to Jesus Christ and Nelson Mandela as he received 10 pledges of support from among the 41 CONCACAF members.
"That was very improper towards the contestants of Sepp Blatter," Krishnadath was quoted as saying. "The purpose of our congress was to discuss the annual report of FIFA and to elect a new board of members for the CONCACAF.
"Then, you should not all of a sudden declare that you will vote for Blatter. That is a wrong signal. As if the rest didn’t count.
"I know colleagues from other FA’s who feel the same way as I do and who in the run-up to the elections for the FIFA presidency have started to think differently."
The ANP said that Suriname is the first country to openly pledge their vote to Van Praag.
Although Belgium, Sweden, Scotland, Romania, Faroe Islands and Netherlands backed his decision to stand, that does not mean they will automatically vote for him at the election of May 29.
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; editing by Justin Palmer)
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