Saudi Arabian soccer influence grows by winning seat on FIFA Council

The election results confirmed Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the heart of Asian soccer politics with the AFC presidency scheduled to be vacant in 2027.

Published: 01st February 2023 05:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st February 2023 05:00 PM   |  A+A-

Saudi Arabia flag

Saudi Arabia flag (Photo | AP)

By Associated Press

MANAMA: Saudi Arabia added to its influence in global soccer Wednesday, winning a seat on FIFA’s ruling Council before being set to be confirmed as host of the 2027 Asian Cup.

The election win at the Asian Football Confederation’s annual meeting followed Cristiano Ronaldo moving last month to play in the Saudi league and longstanding speculation about a likely bid 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 Wednesday to the election meeting in Bahrain.

The election results confirmed Saudi Arabia and Qatar at the heart of Asian soccer politics with the AFC presidency scheduled to be vacant in 2027.

AFC president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa was reelected by acclamation 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.

FIFA Council positions — which pay a $250,000 salary in Zurich — were also won by Japan’s Kohzo Tashima and Mariano Araneta of the Philippines, who retained their seats, and newcomer Hamidin Bin Mohd Amin, the Malaysian soccer federation leader.

Losing candidates for the FIFA seats were Du Zhaocai from China and South Korea's Chung Mong-Gyu, a scion of the Hyundai-owning family who lost his seat in 2019.

AFC members were also voting for a FIFA seat protected for a woman. The candidates were from Laos and Bangladesh.

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.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp