MANAMA: FIFA president Sepp Blatter hailed the work of Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in refloating the Asian football confederation after its scandal-hit years under Mohamed Bin Hammam writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The Qatari was suspended from football for life in 2012 for misuse of Asan Football Confedration funds, having survived one world feeration attempt to expel him over a cash-for-votes scandal n the 20211 FIFA presidental elevtion.
Bin Hammam has remained a figure of controversy because of newspaper allegations concerning his activities within FIFA during a decade as president of the AFC.
Bahraini Sheikh Salman was elected as Bin Hammam’s formal successor in 2013 after the interim leadership of China’s Zhang Jilong. He was re-elected unopposed at today’s AFC Congress in his home city of Manama.
Blatter, who is seeking re-election himself next month at the head of the world federation, addressed AFC Congress in his role as FIFA president.
His FIFA challengers – Prince Ali of Jordan, Dutchman Michael Van Praag and Portugal’s Luis Figo – were not invited to address AFC Congress though they were present. Late written requests to speak from Van Praag and Figo were rejected.
Blatter praised the progress made by the AFC under Sheikh Salman.
He said: “The Asian confederation had been in waters not so very clear and not so clean and now you have brought back this boat so it is only justice for this congress to re-elect you as leader.”
Earlier Blatter, in a rambling address in which he confused Prince Ali with his Jordanian half-brother and IOC member Prince Feisal, acknowledged the challenges facing the AFC in developing football across its 11 time zones.
He hailed Bhutan’s success in reaching the second round of the Asia qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup as evidence that “there are no more small teams or small associations; this demonstrates the benefit of development all around the world.”
Blatter also praised the development of women’s football in Asia in conjunction the exciting prospect of the forthcoming Women’s Under-17 World Cup in Jordan.
# # # # # # #