AFC presidential candidate pledges more cash to members

New and expanded competitions and more funds for member associations are being promised by Mohamed Khalfan Al Romaithi if he is elected president of the Asian Football Confederation.

Al Romaithi, the chairman of the United Arab Emirates General Authority for Sports, is trying to unseat Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa in next month’s presidential election.

“The AFC has been very harsh and not treated everyone equally,” Al Romaithi told The Associated Press. “There is inequality in the treatment between the member associations. They listen to the strong MAs and don’t listen to the poorer MAs.”

Sheikh Salman of Bahrain has led the confederation for six years but is yet to publicly discuss his plans for a new term. Saoud Al-Mohannadi, from 2022 World Cup host nation Qatar, is a third candidate in the April 6 election.

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Al Romaithi is pledging to give each of the AFC’s 47 member federations at least $2 million per year, including $500,000 mandated for the development of the women’s game. According to a single-page financial statement published by the AFC, $20 million was spent on member association development, education and financial assistance expenses in 2017.

For the 23 countries who fail to qualify for the 24-team Asian Cup, Al Romaithi is pledging to launch a new Associations Cup with a $7.5 million prize fund. The Women’s Asian Cup would also be doubled to 16 teams.

In his manifesto, which was launched in Abu Dhabi, Al Romaithi offers a $10 million contribution to travel that could end the Champions League group stage being divided along western and eastern regions.

Al Romaithi is a former commander in chief of the Abu Dhabi Police who previously led the UAE football federation.

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