AFC candidate pledges to clean up football

Yousuf Al Serkal, one of four candidates standing in AFC leadership election, promises to fight corruption if elected.

    AFC candidate pledges to clean up football
    Al-Serkal, pictured above in 2012, revealed his campaign manifesto on Monday, including a promise to introduce a 'whistle-blower' programme to fight corruption [EPA]

    Would-be Asian football president Yousuf Al Serkal promised to reveal all his allowances and introduce a "whistle-blower" programme to fight corruption as he released his election manifesto on Monday.

    The UAE football association chief, who is standing in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) leadership election next month, said greater openness and transparency was vital for the regional body.

    "We are at a time when our stakeholders believe that leaders in the game are only in it for themselves - this must change," Al Serkal said in a press statement.

    "I want to see an AFC where football is the first and only topic on our agenda and that is why my campaign slogan is 'Football at Heart'."

    Elections

    Asia's football body will elect a new leader at a congress in Kuala Lumpur early next month, after former president Mohamed bin Hammam was accused of bribery in 2011 and finally stepped down from the post last year.

    Caretaker leader Zhang Jilong of China is set to step aside, with Al Serkal up against Hammam ally Worawi Makudi of Thailand, Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa and Saudi candidate Hafez Ibrahim Al Medlej.

    Top of Al Serkal's campaign promises was to "reunite Asian football", and he also pledged to try to improve governance, balance professional and amateur football and distribute revenues more evenly.

    He also said he would decentralise AFC activities from its current base, AFC House in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, and "embrace the diversity of Asia" at the headquarters.

    Al Serkal said he would introduce a "whistle-blower" programme to try to root out the corruption which has plagued Asian football at many levels, and would declare all his personal allowances and benefits.

    "If I am successful, I will lead the way to make the AFC much more transparent with improved governance in order that we regain the integrity of the game in Asia," he said.

    "It is important that I lead by example, and so I will publicly declare all allowances and benefits given to me by the confederation, and expenditure incurred by my office.

    "I will also introduce a 'whistle blower' programme to allow players and officials to report in absolute confidence any irregularities - whether in match fixing or any issue relating to football."

    The election, at the AFC congress in Kuala Lumpur on May 2 and 3, is likely to be a hard-fought affair and risks widening factional splits in the diverse, 46-member body, the world's biggest football grouping.

    Cleaning up corruption, including match-fixing, is also a huge task with operations from illegal gambling estimated in the billions of dollars and straddling dozens of countries and jurisdictions worldwide.

    Bin Hammam remains under investigation for alleged financial wrongdoing during his time in office. He denies the accusations, as well as claims of bribery during his campaign to become president of world body FIFA in 2011.

    SOURCE: AFP


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