KUALA LUMPUR: Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa could be unopposed when he stands for re-election next month as president of the Asian Football Confederation writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
The Bahraini was already favourite to retain the AFC leadership he has held since 2013 along with the accompanying vice-presidency of world governing body FIFA even before rival Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi of the United Arab Emirates, withdrew his candidacy yesterday.
Now sources close to the AFC hinted that the only remaining challenger, Qatar’s Saoud Al Mohannadi, might shortly follow suit before the election congress in the AFC capital of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on April 6.
Only a fortnight ago Al Romaithi had launched his campaign in blaze of publicity with a slogan “Making Football Fair” and a promise of generating $300m for Asian football development.
Now, after a face-to-face meeting with Sheikh Salman, all that has gone.
Al Romaithi, who heads up the UAE’s General Authority for Sport, said: “I would like to thank Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa for his initiative and his visit to the UAE and I would like to stress that when I decided to run for the presidency it wasn’t because I was aiming for the position itself.
“The main reason was to put Asian football where it deserves to be: among the other continents through a programme that reflects my vision on how to develop the game in the biggest continent in the world.
“I was happy that Sheikh Salman wants to take advantage of this programme and aim to achieve it. Therefore, I will spare no effort in supporting him in order to reach this goal.”