Fifa presidential candidate Luis Figo believes incumbent Sepp Blatter does not have support from the whole of Africa in his bid for re-election.
Figo’s view contradicts a statement made on Tuesday by Confederation of Africa Football president Issa Hayatou at his body’s congress in Cairo.
Hayatou said all its members would vote for Blatter in the 29 May election.
“I’m positive that Mr Hayatou did not speak in the name of the 54 members of the confederation,” countered Figo.
“Even when he announced he would support Blatter, we could notice a difference from past congresses when a statement like that normally is followed by a standing ovation.
“This time we heard just a normal applause, which confirms my idea that a lot of African countries understand and agree with the need to change for the better of everyone, especially the national associations.
“In fact there were federation presidents who assured me they would vote for me but they were reluctant to say this out loud because they feared reactions against them, their federations and even their countries,” added the former Portugal international.
“To end this kind of atmosphere is why I decided to be a candidate. Football should be about a beautiful game and people should be able to express themselves freely and openly.”
Figo, 42, is one of three challengers to the 79-year-old Blatter, who is seeking his fifth term in office. Fifa vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan and Dutch Football Association chairman Michael van Praag are also running against the Swiss.
The Caf congress ended on Tuesday with Hayatou declaring Africa’s complete support for Blatter’s re-election but on all previous occasions when the Caf chief has promised a block of African votes, many have broken ranks.
When Blatter was first elected as Fifa chief in 1998, Hayatou pledged Africa’s votes to rival Lennart Johansson of Sweden but most defied him to vote the Swiss into power.
And in 2002, when Hayatou stood against Blatter, almost half the African countries voted against their own confederation president.