Asian soccer finally got rid of tainted former leader Mohamed Bin Hammam on Thursday,voting in the Qatari’s sworn enemy Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain as president in a move that strengthened the hand of FIFA head Sepp Blatter.
Sheikh Salman secured 33 of the 46 presidential votes available from AFC member associations in Malaysia,to beat Yousuf Al Serkal of the United Arab Emirates (six votes) and Thailand’s Worawi Makudi (seven votes) in a lop-sided election. The Bahraini replaces disgraced Qatari Mohamed Bin Hammam,who was banned for life by FIFA in 2011 amid allegations of trying to buy votes.
The AFC had been in limbo ever since,with China’s Zhang Jilong’s interim leadership beset by numerous matchfixing and graft scandals among member associations. Dressed in a sharp grey suit and black tie,Sheik Salman told the AFC Congress that the confederation had to reform and become more transparent.
“Today I’m proud and happy,proud and happy to see the Asia football family gathered together,” he said. “Proud and happy to see our family united under one roof in the capital of Asian football. We need complete reforms, he added.