THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

AFC President hails Asia’s display at the FIFA Club World Cup

FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021 (© FIFA)

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Asia’s representatives as well as the United Arab Emirates Football Association (UAE FA) and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for their commendable efforts at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021, which saw Chelsea claim the coveted club crown in Saturday’s final.

Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal SFC drew plaudits from football fans across the globe after their brave display in the semi-finals where the AFC Champions League 2021 winners were narrowly edged 1-0 by European and eventual champions Chelsea.

Despite their defeat to African champions Ah Ahly in the third-place playoff, the record four-time Asian club champions equalled their best performance at the global club showpiece in 2019 when they also finished fourth in their debut campaign after narrowly losing to Mexico’s CF Monterrey on penalties.

Asia’s proud tradition on the world stage was further underlined when the Australian trio of Referee Chris Beath and Assistant Referees Anton Shchetinin and Ashley Beecham were appointed to officiate Saturday’s final with Ammar Ali Aljneibi of the UAE also assisting as the Support Video Assistant Referee.

The achievement of the quartet marked the second time in three years that a team of AFC match officials were appointed to oversee the most significant club showdown in world football, following the appointment of Qatari trio Referee Abdulrahman Al Jassim and Assistant Referees Taleb Al Marri and Saoud Almaqaleh at the 2019 final between eventual winners Liverpool and Flamengo.

Shaikh Salman said: “On behalf of the Asian football family, I would like to congratulate Al Hilal, Al Jazira and all our match officials for doing the Continent proud in what was an outstanding showcase of Asia’s undeniable talent.

“The AFC is resolute in our ambitions to ensure Asia continues to succeed on the world stage and the continued achievements of our teams and officials is testament to the undeniable progress of the AFC in realising our Vision and Mission for our Member Associations.”

The AFC President was also full of praise of the UAE FA and the UAE authorities including the Abu Dhabi Sports Council as well as the LOC for sparing no efforts in ensuring the success of the tournament which was held in the Emirates for the fifth time.

“As we have reiterated several times before, 2022 is indeed Asia’s time and the FIFA Club World Cup in the UAE was a wonderful celebration and reflection of the warm Asian and Arab hospitality well admired across the world.

“The UAE FA, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the LOC deserve immense praise for their extraordinary commitment and world-class organisational capabilities and for setting the perfect stage in a year when Asia will continue to be the epicentre of world football.”