Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa today lauded the resilience and steadfast dedication of the Asian football family as the AFC remained well positioned to successfully deliver its competitions and numerous online development and education programmes in 2021.
Chairing the 8th AFC Executive Committee meeting in Manama, Bahrain, Shaikh Salman underlined the AFC’s gratitude to the centralised host Member Associations (MAs) as well as the participating teams, clubs, match officials, commercial and broadcast partners, the Continent’s fans and relevant stakeholders – all of whom played a pivotal role in the safe resumption of Asian football.
Shaikh Salman said: “We began 2021 with cautious optimism, and thanks to the unity and solidarity of the Asian football family, we have delivered on our promise.
“It was essential for the AFC to show the world that Asian football was ready to return and none of this would have been possible without the support and dedication from our MAs and we must also thank the many hosts of the centralised competitions and matches in neutral venues.
“We continue to show the world that Asian football is ready to emerge stronger from the greatest ever global crisis in modern history and I have no doubts that the same unity and solidarity will continue to shine through.”
As part of efforts to further strengthen the foundations for Asian football to usher in a new era of growth and development, the AFC President also shared the plans in the pipeline, as outlined in the AFC’s Vision, to enhance the appeal and quality of the AFC’s club competitions.
He added: “While we continue to adjust to the effects of the pandemic, I am pleased to note that the AFC competitions continue to grow.
“There will be changes to the rules on foreign players, as well as to our competitions calendar. These are all part of the strategy to improve our players, clubs and national teams on the world stage.”
The AFC President was joined by the AFC Executive Committee members in offering praise to the AFC MAs and Regional Associations (RAs) for their agility and commitment in ensuring the continued development of football across the Continent by transitioning most, if not all, development and educational programmes and activities to virtual forums.
At the same time, the AFC Executive Committee also took the opportunity to express the well wishes of the Asian football family to the Qatar Football Association, Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Legacy & Delivery and the Qatari authorities in their preparations for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, which on Sunday marked the one-year countdown to the global showpiece.
Looking to the future, the AFC President also emphasised on the importance to further enhance the AFC’s funding regulations and policies to better equip MAs and RAs with the capabilities in establishing and implementing long-term and sustainable plans, which will ultimately pave the way for a more dynamic approach to football development across the Continent.
Shaikh Salman added: “During the pandemic, the AFC’s development funding proved crucial for the operations of our MAs and RAs and we now aim to modernise the framework of the AFC’s development funding to help them better utilise the grants for their long-term development and needs.
“There is uncertainty across the world, but I am confident that good governance, prudent management, our unity and our solidarity, will all see us through to a brighter and better future.”
The highlights of the 8th AFC Executive Committee meeting are:
• The AFC Executive Committee ratified the recommendations by the AFC Development Committee to transition the existing AFC Financial Assistance Programme and AFC Regional Association Fund to the AFC ENHANCE Member Association Programme Regulations and Policy and the AFC ENHANCE Regional Association Programme Regulations and Policy respectively.
• Under the new AFC ENHANCE Member Association Programme Regulations and Policy, Beneficiary MAs, with the exception of sanctioned or suspended MAs, will be able to receive financial assistance of USD2m over a four-year cycle with a maximum allocation of USD500,000 per year, to be utilised in three main areas, which include Administration, Competition Management and Infrastructure Development.
• Similarly, under the new AFC ENHANCE Regional Association Programme Regulations and Policy, RAs will be able to receive financial assistance of USD1m for a four-year cycle with a maximum allocation of USD250,000 per year.
• Additionally, the Regulations will now fall under the ambit of the AFC Development Committee.
• The AFC Executive Committee also ratified the AFC Medical Committee’s recommended recipients of the AFC Medical Awards 2022, which will be held in conjunction with the AFC Medical Conference 2022 in Doha, Qatar in March next year.
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