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Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Executive Committee reiterated its position opposing government interference in football in the region at its meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday. 

The Executive Committee looked for the AFC Administration to work with FIFA and report back in May as to the ways of tackling the problem which affects so many countries in Asia.

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa was recently in Indonesia, where the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) were one of two Member Associations suspended by FIFA. The other is Kuwait, who remains suspended.

Shaikh Salman added: “I was recently in Indonesia who we have welcomed back to the football family and it demonstrated to me – and should remind us all – of the damage caused by government interference. Indonesia now has our full support as they look to rebuild their football status.

“We have to stand very firm in support of the Member Associations in the face of interference and intervention from their governments. We recognise that some issues are more complicated than others but we must act to protect the future of football and footballers in these countries.”

The AFC Executive Committee backed a recommendation to insist FIFA seek an urgent resolution to the ongoing Palestine issues with Israel.

The Executive Committee reinforced a recommendation from the AFC Member Association Task Force that FIFA and the FIFA Monitoring Committee Palestine-Israel come up with the best solution to resolve the long-standing issues in the region by applying the relevant FIFA Statutes as soon as possible.

AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: “Palestine is a Member Association of the AFC and all they want is to see football played on their land. We would like to see a definite deadline set, as in the past the deadline has been extended again and again. We all feel strongly that this issue should be resolved.’

In Bahrain on May 8, 2017, the AFC will elect four representatives – one of whom will be a woman – to the FIFA Council. The AFC President said that the election should be another chance to demonstrate the unity of purpose that exists in Asia. He said: “There will be winners and losers - that is normal in football.

“But during the election process the main goal – to deliver a Confederation, and indeed a FIFA, we can all be proud of - must be the over-riding sentiment. We will see different views, different approaches but I know we will see only one objective – to create a better game for future generations.”

The Executive Committee instructed the AFC Administration to push FIFA for a ruling on the eligibility of the candidates for election. The AFC had submitted names on February 3, 2017 for the FIFA eligibility checks which were to be completed within 21 days.

However, the Executive Committee noted by today’s meeting FIFA had not completed the integrity checks and reiterated that clarification from FIFA was needed.  

In September last year the AFC Extraordinary Congress in Goa was postponed after the AFC Member Associations protested against the perceived interference by FIFA in the running of the Confederation’s elections.

As a part of the AFC’s ongoing governance reforms, it was agreed that future elections to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Executive Committee could be conducted on a zonal basis.

The Executive Committee heard the role of the Independent Head of Integrity had been advertised and circulated among Member Associations as recommended by the Governance Task Force at its last meeting in Abu Dhabi, the UAE. 

Bangkok was awarded the AFC Annual Awards 2017 for the first time in its history and Shaikh Salman said: “The Football Association of Thailand has promised the AFC their complete support to ensure the AFC Annual Awards continue to be a fitting celebration of football in Asia.”

Photo: AFC