Football: Asian elections for Fifa council postponed

Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa looks on as members hold up 'No' voting cards during an AFC Extraordinary Congress in Goa. Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin was the only delegate who voted
Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa looks on as members hold up 'No' voting cards during an AFC Extraordinary Congress in Goa. Football Association of Singapore president Zainudin Nordin was the only delegate who voted in favour of the agenda.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PANAJI (India) • Asia's top football officials delivered a major snub to Fifa yesterday, forcing the postponement of an election for three spots on the world body's new governing council in a row over the disqualification of a Qatari candidate.

With Fifa president Gianni Infantino watching on, delegates to an Asian Football Confederation extraordinary congress, which had been called to conduct the election, voted down the agenda.

Forty two of the 44 members who had voting rights at the meeting raised a "No" card when AFC president Sheikh Salman Ebrahim Al Khalifa called for the agenda of the meeting to be passed.

"This has been an eventful morning - and an eventful few weeks," Sheikh Salman told the gathering. "But the Congress has spoken with one voice and that has been clear for us all to see.

"Fifa president, Gianni Infantino, I am not sure if you have been at a shorter Congress (20 minutes) but I think you can see the strength of opinion in the room."

Fifa banned Qatari Saoud Al-Mohannadi from the election on Sunday because of an ongoing ethics investigation, leaving insufficient time for new candidates to join the six remaining in the field.

AWAITING KICK-OFF

It's like arriving to play your grand final and then the game gets rescheduled to another day.

MOYA DODD, chairman of Fifa's task force for women's football, on the postponement of the Asian elections for three seats on the new Fifa Council .

Only Singapore, who had their football association chief Zainudin Nordin as one of the candidates for the Fifa Council elections, voted in favour of the agenda, while another member abstained.

The AFC will set a new date for an extraordinary congress in consultation with Fifa, the Asian body's secretary-general Windsor John said.

Al-Mohannadi, a vice-president of the Qatar Football Association who denies any wrongdoing, was one of the favourites to win a seat on the new body and had cleared the necessary Fifa integrity check.

A Fifa ethics investigator last month recommended that he be banned from the game for at least 21/2 years for refusing to cooperate with an inquiry.

Asia's three additional seats on the Council include one reserved for a woman.

Australian Moya Dodd was slated to take on Mahfuza Ahkter of Bangladesh and Han Un Gyong of North Korea.

"It's a little disappointing. It's like arriving to play your grand final and then the game gets rescheduled to another day," Dodd, the chairwoman of the Fifa task force for women's football, said. "But we need to do it when the membership is comfortable to proceed and that wasn't today."

Zhang Jian of China, Iran's Ali Kafashian Naeni and Zainudin were to vie for the other two seats but it looks likely that other candidates will join the race after the postponement.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 28, 2016, with the headline 'Asian elections for Fifa council postponed'. Print Edition | Subscribe