KUALA LUMPUR: FIFA vice-president Prince Ali of Jordan has attacked  the conservative protectionism of his own colleagues at the head of the the Asian Football Confederation.

The 22-strong executive committee considered proposals to expand access opportunities into the Asian Champions League, one of Prince Ali’s pet projects, then turned them down.

The president of the Jordan FA – usually careful to mind his diplomatic P’s and Qs’ – subsequently vented his frustration at the politically-influenced turn of events.

He said: “I would like to express my deepest disappointment at the decision of the executive committee today regarding Asian Champions League participation.

“I have long argued for a more open and inclusive Asian CL in order to give a fair chance to all teams to play based on sporting merit.

“Unfortunately, the proposal supported by club, leagues and MA ad hoc committees, which gives a chance for the following countries: Vietnam, Singapore, India and Jordan, to participate through a playoff match (i.e. half a slot), was overruled first, by the competitions committee then by the executive committee.”

Prince Ali accused both competitions committee and executive committee of missing an opportunity “to be more inclusive and make the Champions League a truly Asian one that reflects the potential of the continent and promotes the development of club football.”

Last month, Prince Ali had hosted a roundtable discussion of international experts who had recommended that expanding access to the Champions League would act as an incentive to promote development and professionalism.

Urging further consideration, Prince Ali added: “I only hope that this proposal, which will only enrich football in Asia, and increase revenues, would be seriously considered during the next committee week in 2013.

“If resistance to inclusion and growth remains, then there is nothing to be blamed but politics of members protecting their own interests.”


# # # #