KUALA LUMPUR: Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa told the Asian Football Confederation congress – held online – that he would stand again as president next year and that he was in full support of the decision of Gianni Infantino to seek continuation at the head of world governing body FIFA.
The AFC president opened his address by praising all the organisation’s associations for supporting the regional recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shaekh Salman said: “As we take a moment to reflect, it is clear that the AFC, our members and our Regional Associations are well on the road to recovery.
“Despite the Omicron variant, we ushered 2022 with confidence and we owe a great deal of gratitude to all our host Member Associations, our participating teams and clubs for showcasing great unity during our most challenging hour.
“Credit must also go to all our Members and Regional Associations for safely managing the return of football events and their competitions.”
Since the last Congress, the AFC has safely and successfully delivered the expanded AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022™, the AFC Asian Qualifiers – Road to Qatar™, the AFC Champions League™ 2021 Final and 2022 Group Stage, whilst the AFC Cup 2022™ and the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Kuwait 2022™ Qualifiers are currently ongoing.
Off the pitch, Shaikh Salman also emphasised the remarkable progress of the Technical, Referees and Development programmes most notably the initiatives under the AFC Academic Centre of Excellence as well as the imminent introduction of the Extra-Time and Advantage Programmes, announced at the recently concluded 10th AFC Executive Committee meeting.
At the same time, significant inroads have been made to elevate the commercial and sporting propositions of the AFC’s competitions through the establishment of the AFC Elite Club Competition Task Force while the launch of the landmark AFC Child Safeguarding Policy continues to enable MAs and RAs to uphold the highest standards of good governance.
The AFC President conveyed the gratitude of the Asian football family to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, particularly for the manner in which the world football governing body has responded in supporting MAs in Asia and beyond in the face of the toughest health and economic crisis brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed the wholehearted support of the AFC and the Asian football family for President Infantino’s candidacy in the FIFA Presidential election next year.
The AFC President also thanked the FIFA President for agreeing to consider funding the building of the AFC’s own state-of-the-art football stadium in Putrajaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which will mark a significant step forward for the AFC and its MAs and RAs.
In his closing address, the AFC President outlined his intention to stand for re-election at the 33rd AFC Congress to be held in Bahrain on February 1 and 2, 2023.
Shaikh Salman concluded: “As you are aware, my second term as the AFC President started in 2019 and ends next year in 2023 and, I would like to inform you today that I will be standing for re-election in 2023.
“I hope to receive your trust and support once again for the next term as the AFC President.”
Among other items on the agenda, the Congress was also informed about the withdrawal of China PR as hosts of the AFC Asian Cup 2023™ and, due to the emergency nature of the situation, decided to provide the mandate to select an alternative host to the AFC Executive Committee (following the operation of a bidding process by the AFC Administration).
The Congress also approved the audited financial accounts for 2021 as well as certain amendments to the AFC Statutes, reinforcing the Confederation’s commitment to good governance.