Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa has been re-elected to a fresh four year term as head of the AFC. File photo/ AFP
Asia’s football chief and FIFA’s second-in-command Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa skipped his re-election to a fresh four-year term on Saturday after the death of his mother.
The Bahraini royal, a recent target of human rights campaigners, was the notable absentee at the Asian Football Confederation Congress in Kuala Lumpur, where he was re-elected unopposed.
“This (death) is of course a big tragedy where words cannot help,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino told delegates, leading them in a moment’s silence.
“I can only ask you to stand up, to think on Salman, to give him a big hug and to tell him we are with him.”
Infantino said Asia was showing unity and “stability” by re-electing Sheikh Salman, who sent a statement expressing his “heartfelt apologies” for his absence.
He pointed to a record, decade-long commercial deal struck last year, and said it would not have been possible without good governance and reforms to AFC competitions.
“Together, we will grow stronger. Together, Asian football will grow stronger,” Sheikh Salman said.
The Bahraini now starts a new term lasting until 2023 which also renews his position as world body FIFA’s senior vice-president under Infantino.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel was on Saturday elected to the FIFA council during the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Congress
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Hosted by the Sharjah Cultural & Chess Club, the championship is being held under the patronage of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
The 32-year-old, also a successful business professional and entrepreneur, finished 10th in the fourth round of the competition, earning him one point in the rally which attracted 48 teams in his category.