Election Day Dawns For Asian Football Confederation With 'Little Hope' For Reform
The Asian Football Confederation presidential election Thursday arrives with little "hope for reform at the crisis-hit body" due to question marks over the candidates and only a two-year term for the winner, according to Patrick Johnston of REUTERS. UAE FA President Yousuf Al Serkal, Saudi Arabian Hafez Al Medlej, Thailand's Worawi Makudi and Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain "are running to succeed disgraced" former President Mohamed Bin Hammam. Bin Hammam is "banned from football for life by FIFA for bribery" in '11. Should Al Serkal or Al Medlej win the vote in Kuala Lumpur, their attempts to bring about reform "could be hampered by their lack of a voice at FIFA." Worawi is the only candidate who already holds a FIFA executive committee seat. Sheikh Salman "looks to be favourite to claim a winning majority" from the 47 member associations, and "has talked about bringing greater transparency to the AFC." However, his critics "have raised questions about the crackdown of a pro-democracy uprising at home" in '11 (REUTERS, 4/30).
FINISHING THE JOB: XINHUA reported the new AFC president will complete Bin Hammam's remaining two-year tenure before facing another election in '15, "casting doubt on whether he would have enough time to complete any major reforms." Football blogger and Singapore's S. Rajaratnam School of Int'l Studies at Nanyang Technological University Senior Fellow James M. Dorsey said that "most presidential candidates do not have a real reform agenda." Dorsey: "Al-Serkal is the only candidate that has laid out a program that addresses the fundamental problems wracking the AFC, but he lacks a track record of pushing for reform" (XINHUA, 4/30).
ALL IN THE FAMILY: The GULF NEWS reported Kuwait FA Chair Sheikh Tilal Al Fahad confirmed that "he will be running for the AFC presidency" in '15. His announcement "explains the support" extended by his brother, Asia Olympic Council President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah to Sheikh Salman in "what would be the interim period." Sheikh Fahad and his brother "are well aware that Al Serkal is their most serious opponent." The "smear campaign they started to damage the reputation and chances of Al Serkal included sending letters" to FIFA and the AFC members claiming that it was Al Serkal "who was behind the reports of bribes they paid" in the '09 election (GULF NEWS, 4/30).