Gianni Infantino (right) says he "will withdraw" from the FIFA Presidential race if suspended UEFA head Michel Platini (left) is allowed to stand ©Getty Images

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino has said he will withdraw from the FIFA Presidential race if Michel Platini, the suspended head of European football's governing body, is allowed to stand.

Infantino, who has been in his current role since 2009 and worked with Platini for nine years, is one of seven candidates in the running for the FIFA Presidency having officially declared he will stand just hours before the final deadline on October 26.

UEFA unanimously agreed to back the multilingual lawyer, who has been put forward to replace his Swiss compatriot Sepp Blatter.

His candidature followed the collapse of Platini’s bid after the Frenchman was suspended for 90 days in the wake of a supposed "disloyal" payment of CHF 2 million (£1.3 million/$2.1 million/€1.8 million) made to him by Blatter, who has also been suspended.

Platini’s suspension is set to expire on January 5, so before the proposed election date of February 26, although the FIFA Ethics Committee reserves the right to extend the suspension by a further 45 days, which would effectively rule out the Frenchman from running.

"My candidacy is not in opposition to Michel," said Infantino. 

"If he is able to stand, I will withdraw.

"It's a simple principle of loyalty.

"But right now I am a candidate 100 per cent and I'm moving forward, not only for Europe but for world football."

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah believes Michel Platini still wields much support
Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah believes Michel Platini still wields much support ©Getty Images

If he is to land FIFA's top job, Infantino says he intends to increase the number of teams competing at the World Cup from 32 to 40 in a move similar to the expansion of the European Championships from 16 to 24 ahead of next year’s edition in France.

"It created a completely new dynamic in the qualification," said Infantino.

"It created new enthusiasm.

"If you are serious about developing football, it must involve more associations in the best football event in the world: the World Cup."

As well as Infantino and Platini, the five other candidates in the running for Presidency of world football’s governing body are Asian Football Confederation head Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, Jordan's Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Liberia's Musa Bility, France's Jérôme Champagne and South Africa's Tokyo Sexwale.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee, told insidethegames last month that Sheikh Salman will withdraw if Platini is allowed to stand, however.

Platini will still receive wide support if he is ultimately able to run, said Sheikh Ahmad, the Kuwaiti powerbroker who also heads the Association of National Olympic Committees.

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