BANGKOK: Asian confederation president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and his executive committee have congratulated themselves on “the resounding success of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023, expressing confidence that the breakthrough achievements of the Continental showpiece marked a new era of progress for Asian football.”

Shaikh Salman speaking on the eve of AFC Congress, said: “The unparalleled success of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023™ is our collective moment of pride, made possible only through an unwavering dedication to progressing Asian football to the next level through unity, solidarity and cooperation.

“The success of the AFC Asian Cup™ augurs well for the launch of our new club competitions – the AFC Champions League Elite, the AFC Champions League 2, the AFC Women’s Champions League and the AFC Challenge League, which are set to transform the club football landscape across Asia, with bigger prize funds and increased travel incentives.

“The successful delivery of no less than 11 AFC competitions in 2023 also signals the full resumption of football and full credit goes to the Member Associations and Regional Associations for their proactive approach and enthusiasm in hosting the AFC’s tournaments, which has enabled us to look to the future with confidence.”

The AFC President also underscored the importance of reforms to enhance not only the governance structures within the AFC, aligned with FIFA’s objectives and enabled through the establishment of the AFC Reform Task Force, but also the competitions framework.

“The AFC’s unwavering dedication to advancing football development is clear from the strategic reforms we have embarked upon in all areas of the game and it is thanks to this same proactive spirit that the AFC delivered our best ever AFC Asian Cup™ in Doha,” added Shaikh Salman.

“The AFC stands solidly with FIFA in strengthening our governance structures and thank FIFA for their continuous support in this area. Reforms are important to keep pace with the changing times and the AFC has been at the forefront of introducing timely revisions, be it with our statutes, regulations, or competitions.”

Additionally, Shaikh Salman announced the names of the individuals receiving the AFC Distinguished and Lifetime Achievement Awards. The AFC Distinguished Service and Lifetime Achievement Awards honour those whose meritorious contributions have not only elevated Asian football but also left an indelible mark on society.

These prestigious accolades will be presented during a dedicated ceremony at the 34th AFC Congress in Bangkok tomorrow. The inaugural awardees are:

  • Asian women’s football trailblazer Dr Veronica Chan Yiu Kam of Hong Kong, China (AFC Lifetime Achievement Award) 
  • AFC Senior Vice President and President of the Myanmar Football Federation Zaw Zaw (AFC Distinguished Service Award)
  • The late Lim Kia Tong, former President of the Football Association of Singapore and esteemed Chairperson of the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Committee.

At the outset, Shaikh Salman welcomed and congratulated The Football Association of Thailand President Mrs. Nualphan Lamsam, who is the first woman to be elected as the President of any AFC MA.