Surinam has come out in support of FIFA presidential challenger Michael Van Praag while taking a public swipe at CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb along the way.
That the Surinam Football Association should support Van Praag in his bid to oust Sepp Blatter is not a major surprise considering the central American state’s history as a Dutch colony for 200 years until 1975.
Many of Holland’s finest footballers come from a Surinam family background including Edgar Davids, Ruud Gullit, Nigel De Jong, Frank Rijkaard and Clarence Seedorf.
The surprise was that SFA president John Krishnadath expanded a statement of support for Van Praag with an attack on how Webb conducted the central and North American confederation’s congress 10 days ago.
Only Blatter was allowed to address delegates even though challengers Van Praag, Portugal’s Luis Figo and Prince Ali of Jordan were all present. It was not so much a congress, more an election rally, described by some observers as reminiscent of the bad old days under Jack Warner.
Angry Figo criticised the congress manipulation, complaining: “When some speak and others are silenced, democracy and football lose.”
Krishnadath did not pull his punches either.
Firstly, conerning the FIFA election, he said: “I have spoken to Michael Van Praag during CONCACAF Congress. His programme to us – for example his ideas to stimulate and assist the smaller FIFA countries – and his perspective reaches beyond Europe.
“In addition our common language is a binding factor. Besides this the KNVB has been involved in various football projects in Surinam over the years.”
Krishnadath then turned his critical attention to the congress itself, describing its organisation as “very improper towards the challengers of Sepp Blatter [who were all] present at our meeting.”
He added: “The purpose of our congress was to discuss the annual report of FIFA and to elect a new board of members for CONCACAF. 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.”
Krishnadath suggested the tactic might backfire.
He said: “I know colleagues from other FAs 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.”
Van Praag, president of the Dutch federation, issued a formal statement of gratitude for Surinam’s support.
He said: “The Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB) and myself have longstanding good relations with the Surinam association. I am delighted that John Krishnadath, the president of the SFA, has expressed his support for me.
“He had already informed me privately, but I appreciate his public statement immensely.”
Suriname is the first country to support Van Praag openly. Belgium, Sweden, Scotland, Romania, Faroe Islands and Holland were his candidacy nominees but that did not bind them to vote for Van Praag in the election at FIFA Congress on May 29.