MANAMA: Asian confederation president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has been talking strategy this past week – but has yet to do so at AFC headquarters itself writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Sheikh Salman was elected in May at an extraordinary congress in Kuala Lumpur where the AFC is headquartered. But staff have hardly seen him since.
His latest statement on his vision for Asian football came after a conference with delegates from the West Asian national associations at a FIFA-AFC development seminar which was held on Sheikh Salman’s ‘home ground’ in Bahrain.
Sheikh Salman needs to move fast to make his mark since his initial stint as president is only for two years because he took over effectively halfway into the mandate of disgraced predecessor Mohamed Bin Hammam.
He said: “We are at the assessment stage now and we are aiming to roll out the plan in 2014. Asia generates half of FIFA’s revenue and this surely shows the tremendous potential we have in this continent.
“We need to further develop this game in Asia and we fully support FIFA and its president Sepp Blatter’s efforts in developing the game in our continent.”
Sheikh Salman with little time in which to work, also risks being distracted by his new role overseeing, on behalf of the FIFA executive, the worldwide consultation process into the timing of the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.
A more immediate issue concerns the ongoing row over FIFA’s ruling that Iraq was nor secure enough to host international matches. This prompted the Iraqi city of Basra being replaced by Jeddah in Saudi Arabia as host to the 2014-15 Gulf Cup of Nations.
Sheikh Salman said an on-the-ground would be carried out by a working party representing both the AFC and FIFA.