Bahraini to Head Asian Football

The Muslim Observer

Bahraini to Head Asian Football

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of,

football-shaikh-salmanSheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa was named Asian Football Confederation’s new president, replacing Mohamed Bin Hammam of Qatar. The Bahraini won 33 of the 46 votes in Malaysia to finish ahead of Yousuf Al Serkal of the United Arab Emirates and Worawi Makudi of Thailand. In the process, Sheikh Salman also claimed a vacant seat on FIFA’s executive committee. Al-Khalifa currently is a FIFA 2014 World Cup committee member, and most recently served as General Secretary of the Supreme Council of Youth and Sports, as well as serving as the Bahrain Olympic Committee vice-president. He has been involved in football administration since the late 1990’s.

The 47-year-old al-Khalifa saw off the challenge of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organizing chief Hassan Al Thawadi. Most involved in the process had to see the need to distance themselves from the turmoil that came from Qatari Bin Hammam’s term. Bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA in 2011 amid allegations of trying to buy votes. The former FIFA presidential candidate eventually retired from football last July after having his suspension annulled. Al-Khalifa takes over the last 20 months of Bin Hammam’s term as AFC president, with the next election in January 2015. “We need complete reforms,” al-Khalifa said. “What we need is an AFC where decision makers are accountable.”

Before voting began, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Asian football still had to work to heal its divisions and rebuild its reputation. “I would identify this restart as an intermediary restart,” he said. “Because then the right start will be in two years in 2015 and now you will have two more years to put your house in such an order.” The 2022 World Cup is still scheduled to take place in Qatar despite the controversies.


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