AFC boss rules out FIFA presidency bid

Agence France-Presse
AFC boss rules out FIFA presidency bid
"No, no, no," said AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa at the AFC awards when asked if he saw himself as a potential leader of football's world body.

MANILA, Philippines – The head of Asian football ruled out a future bid for the FIFA presidency and said he had long-term ambitions for the continent which will host its second World Cup in 2022.

Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who is seeking re-election next year, told AFP that even another four years in the Asian job wouldn’t be enough.

“No, no, no,” he said at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) awards late on Sunday, when asked if he saw himself as a potential leader of football’s world body.

“You ask me this question today, my only focus is about Asia. I think there’s a lot that needs to be done here. 

“Two years or another four years, I don’t think it’s enough. So my focus is just to look into the confederation and what changes we can make for the better of the game.”

(RELATED: Philippine Football Federation wins Grassroots Award in AFC Gala)

The Bahraini royal was elected AFC president in 2013 to a truncated two-year term after the ousting of his controversial predecessor, Mohamed bin Hammam, over bribery allegations.

Bin Hammam’s football career ended in a life ban from the sport after the Qatari was accused of vote-buying during his campaign to unseat FIFA chief Sepp Blatter in 2011.

Blatter is seeking a fifth term next year, when he will be strong favorite to see off French challenger Jerome Champagne. Jordan’s Prince Ali bin Al Hussein is also reportedly considering standing.

Likewise Shaikh Salman looks set to retain his position next year by winning an election which will also see him installed as a FIFA vice president, after the AFC decided to combine the posts.

The Bahraini said there was still much to do in a region that failed to impress at this year’s World Cup when its teams Japan, Australia, Iran and South Korea all departed without a win.

(RELATED: Asian football player of the year ‘proud’ despite ban)

Match-fixing concerns remain following a number of scandals, including at this year’s Asian Games where suspicious betting patterns were reported.

Last month’s AFC Champions League final ended in acrimony and a mass shoving match, with runners-up Al Hilal later calling their 1-0 defeat “a black spot in the history of Asian football”, citing a number of failed penalty appeals.

“In every match you will always have some complaints regarding a result. But I think Al Hilal has accepted it, and I think the Sydney club have won it and congratulations to them,” said Shaikh Salman.

He added that his priorities if re-elected would be to maintain harmony across the vast and diverse region, and also raise revenues for the AFC’s 47 member associations.

He said he is also working on modernizing the AFC’s formats and competitions, and starting new initiatives to develop football in Asia.

“I think we’ve achieved that but still I think there is more to be done, to improve, and I hope that if I get elected for the next four years from 2015 onwards we can set realistic goals,” he said.

Qatar is due to host the World Cup in 2022. It was held in Asia for the first time in 2002, when the hosts were Japan and South Korea. – Rappler.com

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