November 23 – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has cancelled its re-arranged extraordinary Congress, arranged principally to elect its FIFA Council members, and will now hold that vote at its Ordinary Congress in Bahrain in May 2017, in conjunction with the FIFA Congress being hosted in Bahrain.
In September AFC members sensationally voted not to proceed with their extraordinary 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 were sympathetic to the views FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
FIFA had disqualified Qatari Saoud Al-Mohannadi at the last moment from standing for election. He has now, perhaps not surprisingly if the suspicions of political manipulation are correct – something FIFA Ethics forcefully deny – been banned for one year for failing to cooperate as a witness with a FIFA investigation.
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 presidential election earlier this year.
Jian has since been invited as an ex-officio member of the AFC’s executive committee.
So far no candidates for AFC slots on FIFA’s Council have been nominated for the May election and it is not clear if all the original contenders will put themselves forward again.
The cancellation of the February meeting and postponement of the vote will have little impact on AFC members taking their FIFA Council positions. With FIFA’s next council meeting being held in January, an AFC EGM in February would not get new AFC-elected FIFA Council members to that meeting. The next FIFA Council meeting after January is during the May Congress, hence moving the AFC vote to the Ordinary Congress saves a needless duplication of meetings and cost.
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