Wed 01-02-2023 15:10 PM
MANAMA, 1st February, 2023 (WAM) — Saudi Arabia has won a seat on FIFA’s ruling Council before being set to be confirmed as host of the 2027 Asian Cup, Associated Press (AP) reported on Wednesday.
The election win at the Asian Football Confederation’s annual meeting proves growing Saudi influence in global football. Cristiano Ronaldo moved last month to play in the Saudi league and long-standing speculation about a likely bid by Saudi Arabia to host the World Cup in 2030 or 2034.
Saudi soccer federation president Yasser Almisehal was among six Asian soccer officials elected by AFC members to represent them on FIFA’s decision-making council through 2027. Saudi Arabia is the only candidate to host the Asian championship that year.
Qatar federation president Sheikh Hamad Al Thani, whose country hosts the Asian Cup next January, also was elected to a FIFA position for the first time. Sheikh Hamad was picked by 40 of the 45 voting federations and Almisehal got 35.
The 37-member FIFA Council is chaired by the governing body’s president Gianni Infantino, who had a front-row seat on Wednesday to the election meeting in Bahrain.
The election results confirmed Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the heart of Asian soccer with the AFC presidency scheduled to be vacant in 2027.
AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa was re-elected by acclamation on Wednesday to a final four-year term in a job he has held since 2013. He is also formally No. 2 to Infantino as the most senior of FIFA’s eight vice presidents.
Later in the meeting, the Saudi bid to host the 2027 Asian Cup was due to be confirmed unopposed. India withdrew its bid in December.
Binsal Abdulkader/ Amjad Saleh