Dubai: Asian Football Confederation executive committee member Major General Mohammad Khalfan Al Rumaithi has entered the presidential election race for Asian football’s governing body.
The Commander-in-Chief of Abu Dhabi Police and a member of the capital’s Executive Council will run against current AFC president Shaikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who is seeking a fresh term at an election in April, the footballing body announced on Saturday.
Qatar’s Saoud Al Mohannadi, an AFC vice-president will also stand.
Both nominations came in before Friday’s midnight deadline last night.
Saudi Arabia’s Adel Ezzat — head of the new South West Asian Football Federation — did not throw his hat into the ring, as had been widely expected.
Al Rumaithi is also the UAE’s chairman of the General Authority of Sport, the UAE FA and a member of the AFC’s executive committee.
Al Mohannadi, the Qatar Football Association vice-president, was hit with a one-year Fifa ban in 2016 for refusing to cooperate with a corruption inquiry, but the ban was overturned after he appealed.
Anyone taking on Shaikh Salman, who is seeking a new, four-year term, faces a tough task.
The Bahraini royal has held the top job at the AFC since 2013, and said at a congress in Kuala Lumpur in October that he had the support of 90 per cent of the body’s 46 full members.
When he first took the reins, the Asian body was still reeling from a corruption scandal which saw his predecessor, Mohamed Bin Hammam, banned from football for life.
Qatar’s Bin Hammam was accused of bribery during his 2011 campaign to unseat the now disgraced Sepp Blatter as president of world body Fifa.
After having a life ban annulled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Bin Hammam was handed a second lifetime ban by Fifa in 2012 for conflict of interest violations.
Shaikh Salman was elected in 2013 and completed the last two years of Bin Hammam’s term, before being re-elected unopposed to a full, four-year term in 2015.
The vote for president and other AFC positions will take place on April 6 in Kuala Lumpur.