AFC elections round 2: Feb-March looks like earliest date for rematch

By Andrew Warshaw

October 20 – The election of Asian candidates to FIFA’s new-look ruling Council looks set to be rescheduled for late February or early March – in time to take up their seats before the FIFA Congress in Bahrain in May.

Last month the Asian Football Confederation took the unprecedented step, in the presence of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, of aborting their extraordinary congress in Goa after just 27 minutes 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.

The move in Goa sent shock waves through football’s political landscape and left last week’s first full FIFA Council session three places short despite Infantino’s bullish appraisal of the organisation’s progress under his leadership.

A decision on a new election date for the Council’s three new Asian members is expected to be taken by the AFC executive committee at its meeting in Abu Dhabi at the end of November, with late February or early March the most likely time. FIFA’s rules allowing candidates enough time to submit their names for election and campaign to members have to be taken into account.

Asia will once again be short of a full quota of representatives the next time the FIFA Council meets, in early January. AFC president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa will be keen to have the issue resolved sooner rather than later since FIFA’s 2017 annual congress, preceded by a full Council session, is being staged in Salman’s native Bahrain after being switched from Kuala Lumpur.

Whether or not the same candidates put their names forward remains to be seen, however. 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.

It is understood that it is by no means certain the same contenders will go head-to-head next time.

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 but will also have to wait a few more months before discovering which of them wins the vote.

Dodd, who was a member of the old FIFA Executive Committee and is still chairwoman of the FIFA task force for women’s football, commented:  “There’s a lot happening in Asia, and as women’s football chair I have plenty to do working for and with our members. The best preparation for the FIFA election is to do a good job in my roles in Asia.”

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