ZURICH (AFP) - Fifa has confirmed that suspended members Indonesia and Kuwait remain barred from voting in the body's presidential election on Friday, in what could be a blow to leading candidate Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa.
Sheik Salman, a royal from Bahrain, heads the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which includes Indonesia and Kuwait.
The sheikh has been endorsed by the AFC's executive committee and was eyeing block vote support from the continent in the closely fought race against his main challenger Gianni Infantino, the acting head of European football.
The two-thirds majority needed to secure a first-round victory seems unlikely for any candidate, meaning the poll could go to at least two rounds of voting.
Only a simple majority is required to win from the second round.
With the two suspensions, 207 Fifa members are cleared to cast ballots at the congress in Zurich.
At a meeting on Wednesday, Fifa's executive committee "recommended that the Extraordinary Congress decide on Friday that both these cases be dealt with at the next ordinary Congress in Mexico," in May, a Fifa statement said.
This means that Fifa's top brass have decided the two bans should remain in force, with the issue to be revisited in three months.
When the congress meets on Friday, any country can call for further debate on either Indonesia or Kuwait.
But, following the executive committee decision, it is highly unlikely further debate could lead to either country being reinstated and cleared to vote.
Indonesia was suspended from international football in May after the government attempted to replace the country's football association.
Kuwait was banned in October because of alleged government interference in the Gulf state's sport.