KUALA LUMPUR: Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa has congratulated his own Asian Football Confederation for its fortitude and solidarity in dealing with the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic in a “year like other.”
The AFC president was addressing the online staging of its annual congress with FIFA president Gianni Infantino among the attendees.
He said: “Throughout these unprecedented and uncertain times we have maintained our focus and we have maintained our belief.
“Yes, there have been challenges. The AFC was the first Confederation to postpone its matches in the face of the pandemic, but we showed strong leadership and also a recognition of what was important in life.
“Tough decisions had to be made. It is never easy postponing any events, but we have come through stronger as we were able to draw on the solidarity and unity for which Asian football is famous.
Sheikh Salman hailed the success of the cross-confederation bid from Australia and New Zealand to win hosting frights to the 2023 Women’s World Cup as well as the Qatar FA and local authorities for developing health protocols to allow the Champions League to be played in Doha. The final is on December 19, 2020.
Back in business
He added: “It was important to put Asian football back on the field for the MAs, teams, players, fans, officials and commercial and broadcast partners. We could not have achieved so much without your support.”
While cautiously optimistic about the future, Shaikh Salman emphasised: “There are difficult decisions still to be made. There is still so much of financial instability due to COVID-19 and we are working hard to ensure that the AFC’s finances are secured to fulfil our vision for the game in Asia.
“Of course, it has affected our stakeholders, our sponsors and media partners but we thank them for having faith in the AFC and their continued support for the game in Asia.
“Good governance, prudent financial management, as seen in our accounts and budgets, as well as our stronger unity will see us through to a brighter and better 2021.”
** The Northern Mariana Islands FA has become the 47th full member association of the AFC. The NMIFA has been an associate member since July 2009.