AFC to elect new leader in May extraordinary congress

SINGAPORE Thu Jan 31, 2013 11:55am GMT

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will elect a new president at an extraordinary congress in May, the regional body said on Thursday, almost 18 months after former head Mohammed Bin Hammam was first suspended by FIFA.

The AFC said the winning candidate from the May 2 election in Kuala Lumpur will hold the post until 2015, as opposed to the normal four-year term.

Nominations for the position opened on Thursday and will close on March 3, with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Football Association head and AFC vice-president Yousuf Yaqoob Yousuf and acting AFC president Zhang Jilong expected to run.

The AFC will also hold elections for a FIFA executive committee member position on a four-year term until 2017, a female AFC vice-president and two female AFC executive committee members to serve until 2015.

The AFC have been under the rule of Jilong since Bin Hammam was suspended during his failed bid to become FIFA president in July 2011, six months after he was sworn in unopposed for a third and final four-year term as head of the AFC.

The ugly episode dragged on as Bin Hammam battled to clear his name amid allegations that he tried to bribe officials in the election race against incumbent Sepp Blatter.

Despite having a FIFA lifetime ban overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Bin Hammam resigned from all his positions last month after the world governing body issued another lifetime ban.

The episode has been a constant shadow on the AFC at a difficult time when the emergence of talented players succeeding in Europe and the boom in spending in domestic leagues has been offset by political power struggles in Indonesia and match-fixing scandals in South Korea and Malaysia.

Despite the problems, Jilong praised his AFC members for their work.

"We will have to work towards making the year 2013 memorable for Asian football. Our teams and administrators made us proud in 2012 and I am confident that we will better that mark this year," Jilong said in the AFC statement.

"We have many events lined up in 2013 and we, as guardians of AFC and Asian football, must make sure that the continent scales newer heights each year."

The AFC said they have nominated Australian Moya Dodd, AFC vice-president and chairman of the AFC Women's Committee, as their candidate for the position of women's football representative in the FIFA Executive Committee.

The May election for that position will be held at the FIFA Congress in Mauritius.

(Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing by Toby Davis)

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