Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President, today announced two new development programmes, which are tailormade and aimed at further strengthening the capacity of the AFC’s Member Associations (MAs) in growing the game more systematically across the Continent.
Chairing the 10th AFC Executive Committee meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, the first-ever to be held in the Central Asian nation, the AFC President commenced the proceedings by extending his gratitude to the Tajikistan Football Federation for their warm welcome and hospitality.
Shaikh Salman also underlined the appreciation of the AFC towards its MAs following the recent conclusion of the AFC Champions League 2022 Group Stage, whilst acknowledging the efforts of all the host MAs in ensuring the AFC remained on course towards delivering nearly all its competitions in 2022.
The AFC President said: “Just last week, we completed the group stages of the AFC Champions League.
“Our sincere appreciation must go to our four centralised host Member Associations – the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, the Football Association of Thailand, the Football Association of Malaysia, and the Vietnam Football Federation.
“After nearly two years, we also welcome the return of Asian futsal with the qualifiers for the AFC Futsal Asian Cup in progress. And again, thanks to our centralised hosts.
“Across the Continent, the hosts for the AFC Cup, the qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023, our crown jewel – have also been finalised.
“The pandemic tested our resolve like never before but the Asian football family continued to showcase incredible unity to rise above great adversity so all credit must go to our MAs and RAs for their dedication.”
Turning his attention towards enhancing the foundations of the AFC MAs to usher in greater success in the post-pandemic era, the AFC President also announced two new programmes focused on further elevating the development of the AFC’s MAs.
He added: “The launch of our two new development programmes – the Advantage Programme and the Extra-Time Programme – further reinforces our commitment to our members.
“These programmes will be complemented by the Enhance Programmes launched just six months ago. Both Extra-Time and Advantage are customised and designed for our aspiring and developing members.
“Above all, they underline our desire to narrow the gap in Asian football, and to raise the level of competition across the Continent.
“My dear friends, I am sure you will all agree that we are well on the road to emerge stronger from this pandemic and I have all of you to thank for your overwhelming support.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino recently announced his intention to stand for re-election in 2023 and Shaikh Salman wholeheartedly welcomed the bid.
“The AFC and the Asian football family welcome President Infantino’s re-election bid and I can assure him today that we will stand united behind his candidature.
“President Infantino has provided inspirational leadership to Asian and world football at a time of deep crisis and we are grateful to him for his steadfast support to the Asian football family,” added the AFC President.
Shaikh Salman also welcomed the newly co-opted member from the South Asian Football Federation Jaswar Umar, President of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka, while thanking the same Regional Member Association’s outgoing member Anura De Silva for his services to the AFC Executive Committee.
The highlights of the 10th AFC Executive Committee meeting are:
- The AFC Executive Committee ratified the AFC Development Committee’s decision to introduce the new Advantage Programme, which will serve as an annual fund to assist the eligible AFC beneficiary MAs in the hiring of qualified coaches, technical experts and support technical development programmes.
- Similarly, the AFC Executive Committee also ratified the AFC Development Committee’s decision to launch the new Extra-Time Programme – an annual fund to assist the eligible AFC beneficiary MAs in meeting their ad-hoc and impromptu needs which support their development objectives.
- The AFC Executive Committee ratified the AFC Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee’s decision to cancel the AFC Futsal Club Championship 2022™ after the withdrawal of the United Arab Emirates as host of the competition.
- The AFC Executive Committee also agreed that the 33rd AFC Congress will be held on February 1 and 2, 2023, in Bahrain with further details to be communicated once finalised.