AFC postpones FIFA Council election

In a snub to their parent global body, Asian Football Confederation member associations today voted overwhelmingly to postpone an election for three spots on FIFA’s new governing Council in a row over the disqualification of a Qatari candidate.

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AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.   -  AP

In a snub to their parent global body, Asian Football Confederation member associations today voted overwhelmingly to postpone an election for three spots on FIFA’s new governing Council in a row over the disqualification of a Qatari candidate.

With FIFA President Gianni Infantino present, AFC Member Associations voted 42-1 in favour of not continuing with the agenda of the Extraordinary Congress here.

The election of three members from Asia on the FIFA Council was the main agenda in the AFC Extraordinary Congress held here but the proceedings lasted less than 30 minutes.

FIFA had banned Qatari Saoud Al-Mohannadi from the election yesterday because of an ongoing ethics investigation, just 24 hours before the vote was to take place, leaving insufficient time for new candidates to join the six remaining in the field.

In concluding the 27-minute AFC Extraordinary Congress, AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa told the delegates and guests: “This has been an eventful morning — and an eventful few weeks.

“But the Congress has spoken with one voice and that has been clear for us all to see. FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, I am not sure if you have been at a shorter Congress but I think you can see the strength of opinion in the room,” said Shaikh Salman, who had lost to Infantino in the presidential election earlier this year.

After the Congress, the AFC held an emergency Executive Committee meeting where Shaikh Salman said: “Today the AFC and Asian football has shown solidarity and unity. The message has been clear to everyone both inside and outside Asia.

“Football in Asia is united and that is down to you — the Members — and I thank you for sending out such a strong message that we stand united.”

FIFA’s ethics committee last month recommended a two-and-a-half-year ban for Saoud Al-Mohannadi, vice-president of the Qatar Football Association, for refusing to cooperate with a corruption investigation.

Mohannadi denies any wrongdoing and had initially been cleared to stand, before the AFC announced late yesterday that he’d been ruled out by FIFA.

FIFA has not revealed the subject of the corruption inquiry, but said it’s not connected with allegations related to the 2022 World Cup, which Qatar will host.

Meanwhile, the AFC Executive Committee co-opted Zhang Jian, from China, to sit on the Committee until the next Extraordinary Congress. The AFC will now consult with FIFA to establish the timeline for convening the next Congress.