TOKYO: Senior Japanese official Kohzo Tashima is targeting a seat on the executive committee of world federation FIFA next year writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

A statement from the Japan Football Association confirmed speculation which has abounded ever since early in 2013.

Then it had been suggested that Tashima, vice-president and executive general secretary of the JFA, might run for the presidency of the Asian Confederation after the late withdrawal of interim leader Zhang Jilong from China.

In the event Tashima left others to fight it out and Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa scored a decisive victory over Thailand’s Worawi Makudi and Yousuf Al-Serkal of the United Arab Emirates.

Tashima has various routes to consider but the most likely is to campaign for the slot currently held by Zhang who is also, of course, from east Asia.

Alternatively he might contest Asia’s FIFA vice-presidency which is held currently by Prince Ali of Jordan.

Asia’s ‘ordinary’ members on the world authority’s exco are Sheikh Salman  (who beat Qatar’s Hassan Al Thawadi in a separate election), Zhang and the controversial and long-serving Worawi Makudi.

Interim president

Zhang took over as interim AFC president in 2011 after the life ban of Qatar’s Mohamed Bin Hammam. He stepped down in the spring of 2013 but was then ‘parachuted’ into the FIFA exco at short notice by the AFC after a life ban on Sri Lanka’s Vernon Manilal Fernando. This means Zhang’s tenure is due to end at FIFA Congress in Zurich in May next year.

A statement from the JFA said: “What we, Japan Football Association, and the members of Asian football family aim for has been and will always be the same: development of football.”

Tashima insisted: “The development of football in Asia as a whole is what we should aim for. As one of the leading countries in Asian football, it is important for us to share the knowledge and experiences with other football family in Asia to raise the level of football as a whole. That will lead to the development of football in the world as well.”

He added: “Sports, football in particular, have the power to impact our society in various aspects. It is our mission to promote the power of football on and off the pitch, in Asia and all over the world.”

Japan’s national team are regulars at the World Cup finals and the country’s youngest women’s team won the recent FIFA U-17 World Cup.

The country has been absent from the world game’s top table since the retirement three years ago of former JFA president and general secretary Junji Ogura.