Sheikh Salman insists he will not "sit back and relax" despite his bid for the FIFA presidency receiving the backing of the Confederation of African Football.

The Sheikh, who is a member of Bahrain's royal family, was identified as CAF's preferred candidate after a meeting of the confederation's executive committee in Rwanda on Friday.

The Asian Football Confederation president has also secured the support of his own continent's executive and now appears to be in a strong position to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president when representatives of the 209 national federations come together to vote in Zurich on February 26.

Friday's backing from CAF does not guarantee that all 54 African federations will vote for him in the secret ballot, but it is likely that most will toe the confederation line.

However, Sheikh Salman - who has denied any involvement in the torture and imprisonment of pro-democracy demonstrators during the 2011 uprising in Bahrain - said on Friday afternoon that he would not become complacent despite appearing to have secured another substantial block of votes.

"I am humbled by the support of CAF's executive committee and tremendously encouraged by the unanimous decision to support my bid for the office of FIFA president," he said.

"I am deeply honoured to have earned the trust of many of our African friends at this crucial stage of the campaigning effort.

"The two endorsements only mean that there is a strong groundswell in favour of my candidacy. What they don't mean is that I can sit back and relax. This campaign will be decided on the day of the vote, February 26, 2016, not before. Naturally, I am confident that I now have a reasonably strong position to work from with such support."

The decision by CAF - which was confirmed at a brief press conference in the Rwandan capital Kigali - also appears to end the hopes of the only African candidate, South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino appears to enjoy the support of most European federations, with Spain declaring its support for the Swiss on Friday.

Sheikh Salman rejected claims from another FIFA presidential candidate - Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan - that an earlier agreement between the AFC and CAF represented "a blatant attempt to engineer a block vote" as being "entirely inaccurate".

FIFA sponsors responded on Friday to letters sent to them by the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD) in which the pro-democracy group claimed the Bahrain Football Association, of which Sheikh Salman was president at the time, suspended and punished six clubs on political grounds in 2011.

Credit card company Visa said in its letter to BIRD: "We share your concerns about FIFA's governance and human rights and the need for extensive and fundamental reform at FIFA."

Soft drinks manufacturer Coca-Cola stated in its response: "We will continue to press for the reforms and independent oversight we believe are necessary for the future of FIFA."

Sheikh Salman responded to BIRD's initial letters to the FIFA sponsors last month by stating: ''When people talk about skeletons in the closet, my closet is clear.

''Some people have an agenda but it's a waste of time trying to answer them, and I think it has already been done by the proper bodies within FIFA and the AFC.

''There has been an integrity check and I don't have anything to defend myself about.''