Asian Football Confederation President Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa reiterated his praise for the Member Associations and Regional Associations for their commitment in charting the organization’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic at the 32nd AFC Congress held virtually on Wednesday.
The AFC president from Bahrain said: “As we take a moment to reflect, it is clear that the AFC, our Members and our Regional Associations are well on the road to recovery.
“Despite the omicron variant, we ushered 2022 with confidence and we owe a great deal of gratitude to all our host Member Associations, our participating teams and clubs for showcasing great unity during our most challenging hour,” he added.
“Credit must also go to all our Members and Regional Associations for safely managing the return of football events and their competitions.”
Since the last congress, the AFC has safely and successfully delivered the expanded AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022, the AFC Asian Qualifiers — Road to Qatar, the AFC Champions League 2021 Final and 2022 Group Stage, while the AFC Cup 2022 and the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Kuwait 2022 Qualifiers are currently ongoing.
Off the pitch, Sheikh Salman also emphasized the remarkable progress of the Technical, Referees and Development programs, most notably the initiatives under the AFC Academic Centre of Excellence, as well as the imminent introduction of the Extra-Time and Advantage Programs, announced at the recently concluded 10th AFC Executive Committee meeting.
At the same time, significant inroads have been made to elevate the commercial and sporting propositions of the existing competitions through the establishment of the AFC Elite Club Competition Task Force, while the launch of the landmark AFC Child Safeguarding Policy continues to enable Member Associations and Regional Associations to uphold the highest standards of good governance.
The AFC president conveyed the gratitude of the Asian football family to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, particularly for the manner in which the world football governing body has responded by supporting Member Associations in Asia and beyond in the face of the toughest health and economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. He also expressed the wholehearted support of the AFC and the Asian football family for Infantino’s candidacy in the FIFA presidential election next year.
Sheikh Salman also thanked Infantino for agreeing to consider funding the building of the AFC’s own state-of-the-art football stadium in Putrajaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which will mark a significant step forward for the AFC and its members.
In his closing address, the AFC president outlined his intention to stand for re-election at the 33rd AFC Congress to be held in Bahrain on Feb. 1-2, 2023.
“As you are aware, my second term as the AFC president started in 2019 and ends next year in 2023 and I would like to inform you today that I will be standing for re-election in 2023,” Sheikh Salman said.
“I hope to receive your trust and support once again for the next term as the AFC president.”
Among other items on the agenda, the congress was also informed about the withdrawal of China PR as hosts of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 and, due to the emergency nature of the situation, decided to provide the mandate to select an alternative host to the AFC Executive Committee (following the operation of a bidding process by the AFC administration).
The congress also approved the audited financial accounts for 2021 as well as certain amendments to the AFC Statutes, reinforcing the confederation’s commitment to good governance.
Further details on the host selection process for the AFC Asian Cup 2023 will be announced later.