Asia’s football chief is set for a new, four-year term and a powerful FIFA vice presidency after officials said on Wednesday that he will stand unopposed in elections next month.
Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa will extend his stay as Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president at the vote in his native Bahrain, two years after winning power by a landslide.
Influential Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah will also seek a seat on world body FIFA’s executive committee at the April 30 congress, an AFC statement said.
Shaikh Salman became AFC president in 2013, promising to wipe the slate clean after his disgraced predecessor Mohammed bin Hammam was banned from football mid-term over bribery claims.
The Bahraini royal overcame allegations that he was involved in a crackdown on pro-democracy activists to easily win a three-way election in the first round of voting.
Last year he won an internal battle to add Asia’s FIFA vice presidency, currently held by FIFA presidential candidate Prince Ali bin Al Hussein, to the position of AFC leader.
Shaikh Salman is now poised to tighten his grip on Asian football, while his ally Sheikh Ahmad could also win an important new post at the heart of FIFA.
The Kuwaiti already wields considerable power as the head of the Olympic Council of Asia, the region’s “apex sporting body” which controls events such as the Asian Games.
He is also a member of the International Olympic Committee and heads the worldwide Association of National Olympic Committees.
The AFC congress comes just weeks before Prince Ali, Michael van Praag and Luis Figo challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency as the veteran Swiss seeks a fifth term on May 29. – Agence France-Presse