Michel Platini's FIFA suspension jeopardizes the integrity of the presidential election and should be lifted to ensure he can be a candidate, the South American confederation said, criticizing the ethics committee decision.
The CONMEBOL statement, which backs Platini's credentials to be Sepp Blatter's permanent successor as president, comes as FIFA's executive committee is poised to discuss at an emergency meeting whether to delay the Feb. 26 emergency election.
FIFA's ethics committee imposed a provisional 90-day ban on Platini on Thursday after a payment the UEFA president received from the world body became embroiled in a Swiss criminal investigation. Blatter was also suspended.
Platini has already received the resounding backing of his European confederation and now CONMEBOL has denounced the former France captain's ban as ''untimely and disproportionate.''
''The presumption of innocence is a fundamental right that has to be considered,'' CONMEBOL said in a statement on its website. ''Mr. Platini has not been found guilty of any charge, therefore the provisional ban jeopardizes the integrity of the electoral process to the FIFA presidency, of which Mr. Platini is a candidate.''
Although Platini's ban expires before the scheduled election date, he is unlikely to pass FIFA integrity checks after the Oct. 26 deadline for the submission of candidacies.
''(CONMEBOL) urges that the provisional ban imposed upon Mr. Platini be reconsidered, and that Mr. Platini be allowed, with full guarantees and without impairing his rights, to continue as FIFA presidential candidate,'' the Paraguay-based confederation said. ''These are trying times that demand an integral reform of FIFA.
''(CONMEBOL) fully believes in Mr. Platini's capacity to lead FIFA and the football world towards a brighter future.''
Although FIFA quickly named an acting president - Issa Hayatou - as required by its statues, UEFA has not elevated its senior vice president - Angel Maria Villar - to temporarily fill Platini's job.
Last month, Platini was questioned by Swiss investigators about a payment of 2 million Swiss francs (about $2 million) he received from FIFA in 2011 for work carried out up to 2002.
Blatter is being investigated as a suspect in the case, while Platini is being treated ''between a witness and an accused person,'' according to the Swiss.
Follow Rob Harris at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports