LONDON: FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein of Jordan has confirmed that  football is still going strong in troubled areas in the Middle East, and even in Syria where the country is fractured with conflict writes CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE.

Prince Ali was speaking on a panel on the future of Asian football at the Leaders in Football conference in London. He spoke about the challenges that the AFC faced but maintained that the ‘Arab Spring’ had not dampened enthusiasm for the game in the region.

“I’m happy to say football and sport is continuing and it is a uniting factor for countries,” he said. “Although obviously in some areas it had affected sport at the time, I think it has bounced back and they are the best symbols and most popular with people in the country.

“It is still on-going in Syria.”

The Asian Football Confederation – as well as including the Middle East – spans across to Japan and then down to Australia, crossing many different time zones. But Prince Ali rejected the idea that the confederation could split at some point to make it easier for teams to play each other.

He said: “We’ve already proven we can function as a confederation, and there are many challenges to face but we are trying to work that out. One of the things we are doing is to have a round table discussion to overcome any challenges.

“Distance is an issue for the entire world, so on the contrary I think if we are united and if we organise ourselves and officials properly we give our players the best opportunity to perform.”

Prince Ali was joined on the panel by Winston Lee, the general secretary of the Singapore Football Association who revealed that in their fight against match-fixing, lie-detectors had been used on some players.

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