Kuala Lumpur: UAE Football Association Chairman Yousuf Al Sarkal arrived here on Sunday to begin the final phase of his campaign to become the new President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
AFC Executive Committee member Al Sarkal, who arrived from a visit to four voting countries where he outlined his election manifesto, accused the Olympic Council of Asian (OCA) of interfering in the elections and said the AFC should reject anyone who does not respect the organisation as an independent body.
He was referring to the public support shown by Shaikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, the Kuwaiti President of the OCA, towards one of Al Sarkal’s rivals in Thursday’s election, Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain. Shaikh Salman is entering both the election for the AFC Presidency and membership of Fifa’s Executive Committee, which he lost to former AFC President Mohammad Bin Hammam in 2009.
“We in the AFC respect all the Asian sports organisations and we expect the same respect from all continental and foreign organisations. We have vast experience to achieve our objectives and goals without the interference of any other organisation,” Al Sarkal said.
“The AFC Executive Committee and its Congress should reject anyone who encourages such interference in the affairs of the AFC. We don’t ask for that because we are in a weak position but because it is the right thing.”
Regarding his chances in the election, Al Sarkal said: “We are in a good position, we are optimistic about our chances and are looking forward to the elections.”
Asked about reports that suggest Saudi candidate Dr Hafiz Al Medlej will withdraw in his favour, Al Sarkal added: “Dr. Hafiz is a close friend and there is complete co-ordination and co-operation between the Saudi FA and the UAE FA in all fields. Some years ago, we withdrew from the elections for the AFC in favour of a Saudi candidate, so anything is possible.
“I am really happy and pleased with the great importance the Asian continent is giving to this election, which will help us in the AFC to build and plan for a better future for the game of football. The only negative thing is the interference of the OCA and we, in the AFC Executive Committee, are capable of facing that.”
On Brunei — who are facing AFC sanctions for withdrawing from Challenge Cup qualifiers last month — and whether they will be able to cast their vote in the elections, Al Sarkal said: “The AFC Congress will decide upon that issue on the election day. It happened before to allow members who do not take part in the AFC youth and junior competitions to vote in the elections as decided by the Congress.”