Asia's resounding No to Fifa
Zainudin must wait on council decision after AFC congress' stance
Asia has taken a strong stand against a Fifa ethics committee decision to block the candidacy of a Qatari candidate for one of three seats on the Fifa Council, by preventing the process of election at yesterday's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) extraordinary congress in Goa.
In the presence of Fifa president Gianni Infantino, 42 out of the 44 members voted "No", rejecting the agenda set for the congress, with the sole "Yes" vote coming from Singapore.
Fifa announced its decision to ban Qatar's Saoud Al-Mohannadi from standing in the election on Sunday evening, less than two days before the congress met.
It came in the wake of Fifa's ethics committee recommending a two-and-a-half-year ban from the game for Al-Mohannadi last month, for refusing to cooperate with an inquiry.
Fifa has not revealed the subject of the inquiry, only saying that it is not connected with the 2022 World Cup, which Qatar will host.
Mohannadi had denied wrongdoing and had been cleared to stand.
Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin, Chinese Football Association general secretary Zhang Jian and former Iranian Football Federation president Ali Kafashian Naeni were vying for two spots on the sport's highest decision-making body, but he will now have to wait to see how the situation unfolds.
Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin. ST FILE PHOTO
The third Asian seat on the Fifa Council has been reserved for a female candidate.
Speaking to The New Paper from Goa yesterday, Zainudin said: "There were rumours over the last few days that something was happening. The members have spoken, and we will have to abide by what the majority has voted for.
"For the record, I had no issues with the agenda and, as it turned out, I was the only one to approve it."
In calling the congress to a close after his members voted, AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa said: "This has been an eventful morning - and an eventful few weeks.
"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, but I think you can see the strength of opinion in the room."
The meeting lasted only 20 minutes.
Sheikh Salman, who was beaten to the Fifa presidency by Infantino in February, held an emergency AFC executive committee meeting immediately after the congress, where he said: "Today, the AFC and Asian football have shown solidarity and unity. The message has been clear to everyone both inside and outside Asia.
"Football in Asia is united and that is down to you - the members - and I thank you for sending out such a strong message that we stand united."
The Fifa Council replaces its former executive committee, after reforms were instituted in the wake of the corruption scandal that engulfed football's world governing body over the last 16 months.
Fifa had earlier set a Sept 30 deadline for AFC to conduct elections to the council, but will now work together to establish a timeline for convening the next congress.
"I think it's democracy and we need to look forwards anyway," Infantino told Reuters yesterday.
"There's still a lot of work ahead."