Leading FIFA presidential contender Gianni Infantino defended his plan to give more than $1 billion back to national federations in his final manifesto plea before Friday’s vote.

Infantino, one of five rivals vying to take over from Sepp Blatter in charge of football‘s scandal-plagued world body, has been accused of putting FIFA’s finances at risk.

But the UEFA secretary general hit back at critics and what he called “personal attacks” in a letter to FIFA’s 209 national federations.

“The increases in development and other assistance funds outlined in my manifesto can easily be put in place,” he said.

Infantino is proposing to reinvest about $1.2 billion (1.1 billion euros) of FIFA’s estimated $5.5 billion in revenues every four years back into development.

“Very significant savings can easily be made in FIFA’s costs so that the amount for reinvestment infootball I am proposing can be safely delivered,” he said.

“This is what FIFA should be about –- footballdevelopment! Not politics, political intrigues or personal attacks.”

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa, the other favourite in Friday’s vote, has said Infantino’s plans could “bankrupt” FIFA. Jerome Champagne, a former FIFA official also standing in the election, has called the plans “dangerous”.

Prince Ali bin al Hussein, a former FIFA vice president from Jordan, and Tokyo Sexwale, a South African tycoon, are also standing in the election.

Infantino called Friday’s Congress “a crossroads moment for FIFA” and said that the decisions taken “will shape football for generations to come”. – Agence France-Presse

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