ZURICH: Chinese official Zhang Jian is seeking to extend the country’s nfluence within international football by standing for one of the extra seats available on he expanded governing council of world federation FIFA writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Zhang took over as general secretary in 2012 of the China football association after Xi Jinping’s accession as general secretary of the Communist Party.

He is one of four candidates from whom the Asian Football Confederation must choose two additional delegates in an extraordinary congress in Goa on September 27. The other three are Iranian Ali Kafashian Naeni, Singapore FA president Zainudin Nordin and Qatar FA vice-president Saoud Al Mohannadi from the 2022 World Cup host.

China lost its place on what was then the executive committee of FIFA after Zhang Jilong stepped down as interim president of the AFC following the election in 2013 of Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

Corporate investment

However the government’s decision to support the aggressive development of the domestic game has been matched by the financial investment at home and abroad of Chinese companies.

The Wanda conglomerate became the first Chinese corporation to sign up as a major World Cup sponsor earlier this year and others are expected to follow suit in different promotional categories.

The AFC elections will also see three candidates seeking a seat guaranteed for women on the FIFA Council. They are Australia’s Moya Dodd, Mahfuza Ahkter from Bangladesh and Han Un Gyong of North Korea.

Dodd, a former AFC vice-president, has worked tirelessly to raise the profile of women not only in football but in sport generally, which fits the stated aims of not only FIFA president Gianni Infantino but the International Olympic Committee.