The South American confederation (CONMEBOL) on Saturday gave its backing to UEFA chief Michel Platini, saying it was against the 90-day ban imposed on him by FIFA.
Platini, who is running to take over from Sepp Blatter as head of FIFA early next year, was handed the ban on Thursday as part of a FIFA investigation into fraud and corruption among its leaders.
The Frenchman, who is also a vice-president of FIFA, has launched an official appeal against the sanction and he will be boosted by the support he has received from the powerful CONMEBOL body.
A statement from CONMEBOL said: “The confederation does not agree with the decision provisionally banning FIFA presidential candidate Mr Michel Platini from all football-related activities.
“It is imperative that sporting justice continues its course in order to clarify all of the facts as soon and definitely as possible. At the same time the presumption of innocence is a fundamental right that has to be considered.
“Mr Platini has not been found guilty of any charge, therefore the provisional ban jeopardises the integrity of the electoral process to the FIFA presidency, of which Mr Platini is a candidate. The confederation, considering the above, believes that the ban is untimely and disproportionate.”
The 60-year-old Platini, a frontrunner to succeed Blatter as chief of the scandal-tainted world governing body, denies any wrongdoing in taking a $2 million (1.8 million euros) payment from FIFA in 2011.
The former France skipper has slammed the ban as “farcical”, insisting the payment was legitimate, and has confirmed he will remain a candidate to succeed Blatter despite the ban on him.
In its statement CONMEBOL said that it fully believed in Platini’s capacity “to lead FIFA and the football world towards a brighter future.”
The South Americans’ action intensifies the crisis which FIFA finds itself in, ahead of an extraordinary meeting of its executive committee called for October 20 in Zurich when plans for the February election will likely be top of the agenda.