Worawi Makudi and Sheikh Salman Join Battle for AFC Presidency

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Thai football boss Makudi (Getty)
(WFI) Thailand’s Worawi Makudi and Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa are the latest football officials to confirm their intentions to stand for the presidency of the Asian Football Confederation.

Makudi announced his plans in a statement today, while Sheikh Salman confirmed in an email to INSIDER reports he would run for the top job in Asian football.

They will join United Arab Emirates FA chief Yousuf Al Serkal, who announced his plans to INSIDER on Jan. 31. Acting AFC president Zhang Jilong and Saudi Arabia’s Hafez El Medlej are shortly expected to confirm their candidatures in the contest to replace corruption-hit Mohamed Bin Hammam as AFC boss.

The closing date for AFC presidential nominations is March 3, with the election taking place at the confederation's extraordinary congress in Kuala Lumpur on May 2.

Makudi, a FIFA Ex-Co member since 1997, said he had received the unanimous support from all 11 member associations of the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) to run for the presidency. He was backed at a special meeting of the AFF Council today.

The Football Federation of Australia, also present at this meeting, has thrown its support behind the head of Thai football.

AFF president Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah, who preceded Bin Hammam as Asian football chief from 1994 to 2002, said in the statement: “Today, we examined our unity and solidarity and have decided to be united in choosing a leader for Asia.

“I am sure Dato’ Worawi Makudi will do everything he can to further the needs of the AFC and their member associations.”

The statement said that Makudi “commands the respect of member associations, not just in the Asean region but throughout the Asian continent for all his efforts to promote and develop football over the years. Dato
Sheikh Salman of Bahrain (INSIDER)
Worawi has also contributed immensely to world football through his role as the FIFA Executive member”.

Makudi is no stranger to controversy.

Seen as an ally of Bin Hammam, who was banned for life in December over corruption allegations following claims of financial mismanagement as AFC chief, Makudi was at the meeting in Trinidad in May 2011 where the Qatari is alleged to have handed out $40,000 cash bribes to Caribbean Football Union members.

Bin Hammam is alleged to have offered the inducements to secure their support in his bid to oust Sepp Blatter in the FIFA presidential elections. Makudi claimed he knew nothing about the bribes.

In 2011, he was also investigated and eventually cleared by FIFA following accusations he spent $860,000 in FIFA development grants to build facilities on land that he owned. He was accused of using two separate $400,000 GOAL programme grants as well as an additional $60,000 of his FA’s annual FIFA grant to fund a training pitch and new headquarters for Thai football.

Last September, Makudi was forced to dismiss allegations of corruption levelled at him over his running of the Thailand Football Association. It followed parliamentary committee questioning where he was asked to explain the football association’s setting up of the Thailand Premier League company; he rejected the corruption allegations and suggestions the federation could be disbanded if there was a clear motivation to generate profit from the project.

By INSIDER’s Mark Bisson

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