By Paul Nicholson
April 8 – AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa was re-elected unopposed for a second four-year term. He became the third confederation president to be re-elected unopposed for a new four year this year following UEFA’s return of Aleksander Ceferin and Concacaf’s Victor Montagliani.
All three presidents have overseen an overhaul of the confederation operations and competitions. Though UEFA have still some way to go before they reach calm competition waters.
While the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) elections were somewhat uneventful, they did mark the return of Qatar to the top table of world football with Saoud Al-Mohannadi winning one of the AFC’s seven seats on FIFA’s Council.
Al-Mohannadi had also been standing against Shaikh Salman as a political counter-weight to the Saudi Arabia-UAE challenge for the presidency from Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi. Both candidates pulled out leaving Salman clear to resume his leadership unopposed.
It was a relief for the region and a victory both for commonsense and for football which – with the continual insistence of FIFA president Gianni Infantino that the world wants a 48-team World Cup in Qatar in 2022 – was being dragged into an ugly, and potentially dangerous, geo-political battle.
Al-Mohannadi’s ascension to the FIFA Council is a major political turnaround from 2016 when he was blocked in standing for election by a FIFA Ethics ban.
That ban was overturned on appeal but not before the AFC had expressed a unity in its own displeasure at the manipulation it perceived was being orchestrated from FIFA HQ in Zurich. At its first attempt at its 2016 election Congress the AFC members refused to accept the minutes of the previous meeting and disbanded, sending a message to Infantino – who had travelled for the Congress – that the Ethics process was not to be used as a political tool to engineer his own people into position with dubious suspensions, as had happened in other confederation elections.
Al-Mohannadi will give Qatar a voice at FIFA Council with 2020 preparations gathering pace, though it is likely the decision on 48-teams for 2022 will have been made at higher geo-political tables long before it gets to FIFA’s Council having to make a ruling.
Shaikh Salman was unable to attend the AFC Congress as he was mouring the passing of his mother. In his place India FA president and  FIFA Council member Praful Patel read a statement on his behalf: “I am extremely honoured at the level of support and trust that you have invested in me to lead the Asian football family again in the next four years.
“I am sure that with your continued support and solidarity, we can all take Asian football to even greater heights.
“I also am grateful for all your declarations of support and your endorsements in recent weeks.
“And to all those elected for the various roles – FIFA Council, AFC Vice President, Female representatives and AFC Executive Committee – congratulations.”
“The hard work begins now. We have great foundations on which to build the future of our game in Asia, but the last four years have shown that success will only come through commitment.
“In Asia and, particularly here at the AFC, we have built a positive reputation and image in the last six years. It has been an honour to serve as your President for the last six years and now I am looking to continue our work together.
“As I have said many times – this is Asia’s time.”
Election Results
AFC President and FIFA Senior Vice President
H.E. Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa (Bahrain)
FIFA Council
Du Zhaocai (China PR)
Praful Patel (India)
Kohzo Tashima (Japan)
Mariano V. Araneta, Jr. (Philippines)
Saoud A. Aziz M A Al-Mohannadi (Qatar)
Female member
Mahfuza Akhter Kiron (Bangladesh)
AFC Vice Presidents
West Zone
Saoud A. Aziz M A Al-Mohannadi (Qatar)
Central Zone
Mehdi Taj (Islamic Republic of Iran)
South Zone
Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat (Pakistan)
Zaw Zaw (Myanmar)
East Zone
Ganbaatar Amgalanbaatar (Mongolia)
AFC Executive Committee
West Zone
Abed-Alkhaliq Masoud Ahmed (Iraq)
Hachem Haider (Lebanon)
Salem Said Salem Al Wahaibi (Oman)
Dr Hamid Mohammed Ali Al-Shaibani (Yemen)
Central Zone
Sayed Ali Reza Aghazada (Afghanistan)
South Zone
Dasho Ugen Tsechup Dorji (Bhutan)
Chris Nikou (Australia)
Dato’ Haji Hamidin Bin Haji Mohd Amin (Malaysia)
Dr. Tran Quoc Tuan (Vietnam)
East Zone
Fok Kai Shan Eric (Hong Kong)
Female representatives on AFC Executive Committee
West Zone
Susan R. A. Alshalabi (Palestine)
Central Zone
(To be contested at a later date)
South Zone
Mahfuza Akhter Kiron (Bangladesh)
Kanya Keomany (Laos)
East Zone
Han Un Gyong (DPR Korea)
Contact the writer of this story at moc.l1554704299labto1554704299ofdlr1554704299owedi1554704299sni@n1554704299osloh1554704299cin.l1554704299uap1554704299

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