Football: Saudi candidate in late withdrawal from AFC presidential vote

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Saudi Arabia's Hafez Ibrahim Al Medlej made a late withdrawal from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) presidential election on Wednesday, leaving three candidates in the running.

No reason was given for the pull-out in an AFC statement issued late on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before Thursday's vote, but Medlej had earlier announced his intention to withdraw to avoid diluting the Arab vote.

Bahrain's Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa is considered the strongest candidate, but he is facing a challenge from Yousef Al Serkal of the United Arab Emirates. Thailand's Worawi Makudi is also standing.

Thursday's election, by AFC delegates at a plush hotel in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, follows claims of vote-buying and financial mismanagement against the body's former boss Mohamed Hammam, a Qatari who stepped down last year.

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