Asian Football Confederation (AFC)

AFC elections: Asian football boss Al Khalifa seeks fresh term to stave off ‘chaos’

Incumbent looks to fight off challenge from Saudi Arabia at next year’s election

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 12:36pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 12:36pm

Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said he didn’t want to allow the organisation to lapse back into “chaos” as he announced a bid for re-election next year.

The Bahraini royal first took the reins in 2013 when the Asian body was still reeling from a corruption scandal which saw his predecessor, Mohamed bin Hammam, banned from football for life.

At the AFC Congress next April, Sheikh Salman could face a challenge from Saudi Arabia’s Adel Ezzat, head of a new regional bloc, the South West Asian Football Federation.

“I am proud of what we have achieved in that time and I am not ready to leave this organisation into a state of chaos,” Sheikh Salman said in a statement.

“We have all seen what the AFC was before, and we have seen what it looks like now and I hope that we can continue that progress.”

Sheikh Salman was elected by a landslide in 2013 and completed the last two years of bin Hammam’s term, before being re-elected unopposed to a full, four-year term in 2015.

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His potential challenger, Ezzat, resigned as head of the Saudi football federation last month, saying he wanted to focus on the AFC elections.

While Saudi Arabia has long been a marginal player in the game, the oil-rich kingdom – currently involved in a diplomatic row with 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar – is seen as being in the midst of a push for influence in football governance.

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Asian football has a chequered history after Qatar’s bin Hammam was accused of bribery during his 2011 campaign to unseat the now disgraced Sepp Blatter as president of world body Fifa.

After having a life ban annulled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, he was handed a second lifetime ban by Fifa in 2012 for conflict of interest violations.