December 8, 2018 / 5:18 AM / 8 months ago

Asian soccer head Sheikh Salman faces challenge for presidency

FILE PHOTO: FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain (C) reacts after the first ballot votre during the Extraordinary Congress in Zurich, Switzerland February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Sheikh Salman bin Khalifa faces a challenge as the head of the continent’s ruling soccer body with two candidates putting themselves forward for next April’s election.

AFC Vice President Saoud A Aziz M A Al-Mohannadi of Qatar and Executive Committee member Mohamed Khalfan Matar Saeed Alromaithi from the United Arab Emirates had lodged their candidacies to challenge Sheikh Salman, the AFC said on Saturday.

An expected challenge from Saudi Arabia Football Federation’s former President Adel Ezzat did not materialise. Ezzat had said in 2017 he would stand against Sheikh Salman in the 2019 elections.

Ezzat’s hopes of a building a power base were apparently hurt in October by the decision of members of the South Asian Football Federation to withdraw from the Saudi-created South West Asian Football Federation.

Sheikh Salman said in October he would be seeking a third term in office. He was first elected AFC president in 2013 to complete the term of disgraced former president Mohammed bin Hammam.

Bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA, the game’s governing body, in 2011 and the AFC was led by interim president Zhang Jilong until Sheikh Salman’s successful election.

The Bahraini was re-elected to his post in 2015.

The AFC President also holds a Vice-President post at world governing body FIFA.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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