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Asian football chief announces bid for new term

Asia’s football chief announced his bid for a third term in office on Wednesday, days after backing FIFA boss Gianni Infantino for a fresh mandate.

Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who has led the Asian Football Confederation since 2013, said he would stand for a new term at the AFC Congress in his home country of Bahrain next February.

“I would like to inform you today that I will be standing for re-election in 2023,” he told a virtual Congress.

“I hope to receive your trust and support once again for the next term as the AFC President,” Sheikh Salman said, according to the AFC website.

The Bahraini royal was a rival candidate to Infantino when the Italian-Swiss was elected FIFA president in 2016 after a major corruption scandal ended the reign of Sepp Blatter.

Earlier this month Sheikh Salman, whose confederation includes 47 of FIFA’s 211 associations, said Asian football was “united” behind Infantino’s bid.

The AFC was also in chaos when Sheikh Salman took charge after predecessor, Qatari businessman Mohamed bin Hammam, was banned from football for life following bribery claims and conflict-of-interest violations.

After completing the last two years of bin Hammam’s term, Sheikh Salman was re-elected unopposed in 2015 and 2019.

Asian football has been badly hit by the pandemic, with serious disruption to its competitions including China’s withdrawal last week as host of the 2023 Asian Cup.

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