KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Football Confederation has finally set a definitive date for the second attempt to fill its four vacant seats on the governing council of world federation FIFA.
The election congress will be held in Bahrain next May 8 , 2017. This is three days before FIFA holds its own congress, also in Bahrain.
As for the AFC, its four elected delegates must include at least one female. A new AFC vice-president (East) to replace China’s Zhang Jilong will be elected for the remaining term of 2015-2019.
The original extraordinary congress in September in Goa was scrapped after only 25 minutes. The cause was an entirely avoidable row over the ineligibility to stand of Qatar’s Saoud Al-Mohannadi who was subsequently banned from the game for a year.
That failure to elect new extra delegates to the FIFA Council meant that the AFC has been under-represented in discussions about the future shape and complement of the World Cup.
These include whether to enlarge the finals to 40 or 48 teams, whether to endorse co-hosting and possibly whether to apply rotation for the 2030 finals (which has a direct bearing on whether China can bid for the centenary tournament).
On October 31 the AFC decided to rerun the extraordinary election congress in Kuala Lumpur on February 28.
Then president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and his advisers changed their minds yet again, cancelled this second extraordinary congress and decided to postpone the elections to the scheduled ordinary congress in May.
This will take place not in Kuala Lumpur, where the AFC has its official headquarters, but in Bahrain to which FIFA Congress has been switched on May 11 after Malaysia quit as host because of a government refusal to grant entry visa to Israeli officials.