by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: FIFA-recognised Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) president Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat on Saturday became the first Pakistani who got elected unopposed as the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) vice-president from the South Zone for a four-year term in the elections of the continental body held at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Meanwhile, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain was re-elected AFC president unopposed for a second four-year term (2019-2023) at the helm of a new-look AFC Executive Committee.
“Thanks God my selection as the vice-president of AFC is a matter of pride for the whole Pakistani nation” Faisal said. “I will play a strong and positive role in the years to come for the development of football in Asia. Pakistan’s football will also be supported,” Faisal said.
Faisal at home faces a tough situation as the PFF chief because already a new body has been formed under the Supreme Court-ordered elections held last year. Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah has been elected as the PFF president.
Although FIFA still recognises Faisal as the PFF chief but he cannot handle Pakistan’s football because of legal issues. On the other hand, Ashfaq cannot handle Pakistan’s football on international front because his body is not being recognised by FIFA and the AFC.
FIFA Member Associations’ Committee has already decided that a joint mission of FIFA and AFC will visit Paksitan to meet all the parties and assess the situation before formulating proposals for the way forward.
Assuming office as the AFC vice-president will definitely give a boost to Faisal in fighting his case at international forum as the PFF chief.
The coming month will be important as the issues regarding Pakistan football would most probably be resolved by FIFA and AFC.
After retaining his seat as the AFC chief, Sheikh Salman will also serve as FIFA vice-president as per rules as usual.
Those elected as FIFA Council members are: Du Zhaocai (China PR), Praful Patel (India), Kohzo Tashima (Japan), Mariano V. Araneta Jr (Philippines), Saoud A. Aziz M A Al-Mohannadi (Qatar) and female member Mahfuza Akhter Kiron (Bangladesh).
Those got elected as the AFC vice-presidents include: West Zone (Saoud A. Aziz M A Al-Mohannadi (Qatar), Central Zone: Mehdi Taj (Islamic Republic of Iran), South Zone: Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat (Pakistan), ASEAN Zone: Zaw Zaw (Myanmar), East Zone: Ganbaatar Amgalanbaatar (Mongolia). The female representatives on AFC Executive Committee are: West Zone: Susan R. A. Alshalabi (Palestine), South Zone: Mahfuza Akhter Kiron (Bangladesh), ASEAN Zone: Kanya Keomany (Laos), East Zone: Han Un Gyong (DPR Korea), Central Zone: (To be contested at a later date). The AFC Executive Committee members are: West Zone: Abed-Alkhaliq Masoud Ahmed (Iraq), Hachem Haider (Lebanon), Salem Said Salem Al Wahaibi (Oman), Dr Hamid Mohammed Ali Al-Shaibani (Yemen), Central Zone: Sayed Ali Reza Aghazada (Afghanistan), South Zone: Dasho Ugen Tsechup Dorji (Bhutan), ASEAN Zone: Chris Nikou (Australia), Dato’ Haji Hamidin Bin Haji Mohd Amin (Malaysia), Dr. Tran Quoc Tuan (Vietnam), East Zone: Mr Fok Kai Shan Eric (Hong Kong).
The newly-elected FIFA Council member Praful Patel, addressing delegates on behalf of the AFC President who was mourning the demise of his mother, said: “I am extremely honoured at the level of support and trust that you have invested in me to lead the Asian football family again in the next four years.
“I am sure that with your continued support and solidarity, we can all take Asian football to even greater heights. “I also am grateful for all your declarations of support and your endorsements in recent weeks.
“The hard work begins now. We have great foundations on which to build the future of our game in Asia, but the last four years have shown that success will only come through commitment.
“In Asia and, particularly here at the AFC, we have built a positive reputation and image in the last six years. It has been an honour to serve as your President for the last six years and now I am looking to continue our work together.
“As I have said many times – this is Asia’s time.”
The elections for the AFC Female Executive Committee member (Central Zone), which were not contested during the 29th AFC Congress, will be held at a later date.