March 25 – The surge in support for AFC President Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa for his re-election campaign to the Asian Football Confederation presidency has reached almost tidal wave proportions with the Central Asian Football Association (CAFA) being the latest to announce its “unanimous support” for his continued leadership.
Last week the UAE’s Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi confirmed he was pulling out of the race leaving just Qatar’s Saoud Al Mohannadi as a rival to Salman. Al Mohannadi is expected to pull out now that geo-political rival Al Rumaithi has gone, but he hasn’t done so yet.
Any lingering thoughts that Al Mohannadi could perhaps have a chance of winning the election would have been shattered by the CAFA announcement.
CAFA, which represents six Central Asian Member Associations – Afghanistan, IR Iran, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – were following on from a similar announcement by the ASEAN regional confederation last week.
CAFA president Umid Akhmadjoonv, who chaired the CAFA Congress, said: “The Member Associations of CAFA have unanimously declared their support for Shaikh Salman to continue his outstanding work as the AFC President for the term 2019-2023.”
Salman now has pledges of support from more than 40 federations, it would appear a somewhat pointless exercise for Al Mohannadi to continue.
Al Mohannadi only entered the race as a geo-political counterweight against the Saudi Arabia/UAE political alignment, one that mirrors the wider economic and commercial stand-off between the Gulf neighbours.
It has been an intense period of national politicking and muscle flexing that has frequently crossed what is a thin divide between sports and politics but which will not now make it to the AFC Conference election floor.
Though for the moment Al Mohannadi is still in the election.
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