October 31 – The Asian Football Confederation has rescheduled its Extraordinary Congress to elect candidates for the FIFA Council, postponed in equally extraordinary circumstances in protest at FIFA’s late decision to bar Saoud Al Mohannadi, vice-president of the Qatar Football Association, from standing as a result of an on-going ethics investigation and recommendation of a minimum two-year ban, for February 28 at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
The new date will give those chosen time to take up their seats before the FIFA Congress in May in Bahrain, but no announcement has yet been made as to whether the candidates will be the same names this time.
Last month the AFC took the unprecedented step, in the presence of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, of aborting their congress in Goa after just 27 minutes. At the heart of the protest was the feeling within the AFC member associations that FIFA was using its Ethics department as a political tool to secure the election of officials to the FIFA Council who would be compliant to the views of the FIFA president.
A decision on a new election date for the Council’s three new Asian members was expected to be taken by the AFC executive committee at its meeting in Abu Dhabi at the end of November but has been brought forward, allowing nominees, one of whom has to be female, sufficient time to canvass support.
Al-Mohannadi had been one of four male contenders in Goa, from whom the AFC was due to choose two for FIFA Council, the others being Chinese federation general secretary Zhang Jian (a shoo-in had the election gone ahead), Iran’s former federation president and AFC vice-president Ali Kafashian Naeni plus Singapore FA president Zainudin Nordin.
The last two are understood to have voted for Infantino at the FIFA elections.
As far as the women are concerned, Moya Dodd (Australia), Mahfuza Ahkter (Bangladesh) and Han Un Gyong (DPR Korea) were due to have contested the Council slot reserved for an Asian female member.
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