23 days to go to the AFC Asian Cup, UAE 2019

Middle East issues dominate AFC exco meeting as rights tender dates confirmed

November 29 – Meeting before their awards night in Bangkok, Thailand, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) executive committee made a number of key decisions for both competitions and management of its business.

Top of the agenda was a ruling to maintain the current home and away format for the AFC Champions League 2018. It is a thorny issue for west Asia with Qatar being blockaded by its  neighbours Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Bahrain.

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, from Bahrain, stepped down from the chair for this agenda item with the committee agreeing “that all concerned Member Associations (MAs) should discuss with their respective governments to seek special permission for football teams/clubs to travel,” according to an AFC press release.

The AFC also backed an earlier decision of the AFC Competitions Committee to send a high-level delegation to the concerned countries to try and mediate the situation to allow matches to be played on a home and away basis, a principle supported by FIFA president Gianni Infantino who was present at the meeting.

Commercial rights

Tenders for the AFC’s new commercial rights cycle which will begin 2021 will open February 2018, but will exclude bidding for Middle East territories due to the political situation in the region.

However, the awarding of the rights contracts could be made at the AFC executive committee meeting to be held in May or June 2018.

Shaikh Salman said: “The AFC will ensure that transparent and fair procedures are followed and that the views of the Member Associations are taken into consideration.”

The exco also agreed to examine the potential for a Global Nations League following a presentation by UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis.

The AFC Executive Committee also reiterated its support for the Palestine FA’s case in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in January on what the PFA suggest was a failure by FIFA to follow its statutes and repeated its continued opposition to government interference, which has led to the suspension of the Kuwait Football Association and Pakistan Football Federation by FIFA.

The support of the Palestinians would have likely been a very uncomfortable moment for Infantino who has been taken to the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) over breach of FIFA’s statutes at its May Congress in failing to allow a resolution or a vote on this issue.

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