Qatari and Saudi football chiefs win seats on FIFA Council
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani and Yasser Almisehal among six Asian officials elected by AFC members.
Qatar and Saudi Arabia have won seats on the FIFA Council, the decision-making committee of world football’s governing body.
The election wins on Wednesday came during the annual meeting of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) which also confirmed Saudi Arabia as the host of the 2027 Asian Cup.
Qatar Football Association President Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani, whose country hosts the next Asian Cup in January 2024, was among six Asian football officials elected by AFC members to represent them on the council through 2027.
Yasser Almisehal, president of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, was also elected. Sheikh Hamad earned 40 votes from the 45 federations, while Almisehal got 35.
The 37-member FIFA Council is chaired by Gianni Infantino, the governing body’s president who attended the election meeting in Bahrain.
The election results confirmed Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the heart of Asian football politics, with the AFC presidency scheduled to be vacant in 2027.
Qatar late last year became the first country in the Middle East to host the World Cup, while in January, Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo arrived in Saudi Arabia to play for Al Nassr amid longstanding speculation that the kingdom will submit a co-hosting bid with Egypt and Greece for the World Cup in 2030 or 2034.
Meanwhile, AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain was reelected by acclamation to a final four-year term in a job he has held since 2013. He is also formally number two to Infantino as the most senior of FIFA’s eight vice presidents.
FIFA Council positions – which pay a $250,000 salary in Zurich – were also won by Kohzo Tashima of Japan and Mariano Araneta of the Philippines, who retained their seats, and newcomer Hamidin Bin Mohd Amin, the Malaysian football federation leader.
Losing candidates were Du Zhaocai of China and Chung Mong-Gyu of South Korea, a scion of the family that owns Hyundai and who lost his seat in 2019.
The election for a FIFA Council seat protected for a woman was won by Kanya Keomany of Laos.
Later in the meeting, the Saudi bid to host the 2027 Asian Cup was confirmed unopposed. India withdrew its bid in December.
Presenting the bid on stage, Saudi sport minister Abdulaziz bin Turki al-Faisal called the 2027 tournament “a transformational moment in our collective football story”.
Saudi Arabia is a three-time champion of the Asian Cup – in 1984, 1988 and 1996 – but has never hosted the tournament.
FIFA is expected to let more than 200 member federations choose the host of the 2030 World Cup next year.
Spain and Portugal, currently with Ukraine also, are planning a European bid for the 2030 World Cup, while a four-nation South American bid that brings together Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, the inaugural host 100 years earlier in 1930, is also expected.