KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysian Football President Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah is targeting more places for Asian sides at future World Cups after launching a bid to join the all-powerful FIFA executive committee.
The Asian Football Confederation will vote for three members to join FIFA’s decision-making board with Tengku Abdullah the first of many expected to throw their hat into the ring for the election expected to take place in April or May.
The Malaysian launched his ‘1Asia 1Voice’ campaign on Friday by repeating the old, somewhat tired, adage of any prospective AFC candidate about having plans to reunite the confederation, long fractured by corruption and disagreements.
To do that, the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) president believed greater spoils for the 46 AFC members would help.
“We are the largest continent, with the highest population in the world. Half of the sponsorship FIFA receive are from Asia,” he told reporters in Malaysia.
“I believe that we should be given more places in the World Cup rather than the four seats allocated to us at the moment.”
Asia’s four representatives at this year’s World Cup all finished bottom of their groups. It was the first time since the 1990 tournament in Italy that Asia did not win a game at the finals.
Tengku Abdullah is likely to face competition from incumbents Wowrawi Makudi of Thailand and China’s Zhang Jilong, with Qatari Hassan Al Thawadi another who could challenge after missing out on a spot 18 months ago.
The 2022 World Cup organiser was beaten by AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa but the Bahraini royal has since restructured the AFC’s FIFA positions and will vacate the executive committee seat for a bigger prize.
The AFC voted in June to adopt policy that the confederation’s head holds a FIFA vice presidency position with Shaikh Salman to stand again as chief.
Current FIFA Vice-President Prince Ali bin Al Hussein fought the Bahraini on the policy before accepting defeat but the Jordanian royal could launch a presidency challenge or at least fight for one of the three remaining FIFA Exco memberships.
Shaikh Salman’s current shorter two-year term was a result of then AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam being banned from football for life by FIFA in 2011 amid allegations of trying to buy votes. Legal challenges by the Qatari led to Zhang taking interim presidency and stopped the body from replacing him.