Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President praised the instrumental role of the AFC’s Member Associations (MAs) and Regional Associations (RAs) in ensuring the AFC continued to emerge stronger than ever from the COVID-19 pandemic at the 31st AFC Congress held virtually today.
Setting the stage for the 31st AFC Congress to convene and in recognition of the challenges caused by the global pandemic, the AFC MAs voted in favour of the motion and proposal submitted by the AFC Executive Committee pursuant to Articles 27.3 and 33.2(i)(v) of the AFC Statutes respectively.
It was therefore agreed that MAs which failed to participate in at least two of the AFC’s competitions over a period of two consecutive years immediately prior to the 31st AFC Congress 2021 would not be suspended from voting at the 31st AFC Congress 2021.
Welcoming the Congress, which was attended by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Shaikh Salman said: “Slowly but surely, thanks to the unity of the AFC’s members, Asian football continues to emerge stronger from its darkest hour and now we are well positioned to seize the vast opportunities ahead of us.”
The AFC President expressed his optimism that Asian football will continue to build on the strong recovery momentum in 2021 and deliver a historic 2022 when the focus of world football is set firmly on the Asian continent.
Shaikh Salman added: “The coming years will be a crucial period for the AFC and its members as Asia will be at the centre of world football.
“As I have said before, this is Asia’s time and in less than two months, we will usher in 2022 with the AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India.
“Expanded to 12 teams, it represents our desire to strengthen the women’s game in Asia and I am confident that the All India Football Federation and the Local Organising Committee will provide our female stars with the perfect stage.
“India will also host the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup and the spotlight will remain in Asia with the FIFA Club World Cup moved to the United Arab Emirates in 2022.”
The AFC President congratulated Al Hilal of Saudi Arabia for winning the AFC Champions League title for a record fourth time and complimented the Saudi Arabian Football Federation for hosting a wonderful final in Riyadh.
Turning his attention to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the AFC President also reinforced the support of the Asian football family towards Qatar in delivering on the resounding faith of global football as the Continent prepares to host the tournament for only the second time in its history.
“Twenty years after Japan and the Korea Republic, the global showpiece will be the best proof of Asia’s progress and the great strides we have made together. The AFC is determined to support Qatar in hosting the greatest ever FIFA World Cup to date,” said Shaikh Salman.
The AFC President also highlighted the recent decisions ratified by the AFC Executive Committee to enhance the capabilities of the AFC MAs and RAs, further underlining the strong foundations built by the AFC and its Members in the last eight years to propel and uplift the standards of Asian football across all levels.
Shaikh Salman further underlined the AFC’s determination to introduce a more structured and tailor-made Technical Staff Initiative for the MAs, a comprehensive Social Responsibility strategy as well as a Child Safeguarding policy.
Shaikh Salman added: “Guided by the AFC’s Vision, our achievements on the pitch were matched by our commitment to strengthen our Member and Regional Associations off the pitch. It was crucial that we continued to ensure our Members were in the best possible position to uphold the standards of good governance and integrity.
“Our humble duty is, and must always be, to hand over this beautiful game in better shape than when we inherited it. Through our collective strength and solidarity, we have achieved so much together and rooted in this unity, I firmly believe that Asian football will continue to scale even greater heights.”
The Congress also approved the audited financial accounts for 2020, and the AFC budgets for 2021 and 2022 as well as the appointment of the AFC’s external auditors for the term from December 2021 to December 2024.