Saudi Arabia plans new Asian football body

The Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) has revealed plans to launch a new governing body that will represent 14 national organisations in South and West Asia.

The SAFF yesterday (Thursday) hosted a meeting in Jeddah which was also attended by representatives from the football federations of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Maldives, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. A senior official from football’s global governing body, Fifa, was also in attendance.

The new body will be known as the South West Asian Football Federation (SWAFF) and will comprise 14 nations.

Adel Ezzat, president and chairman of the SAFF, said: “The nations of South and West Asia want to work with each other to grow football in the region, and to compete on a more equal playing field at future World Cup competitions and international tournaments.”

Ezzat (pictured) last week met with Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa to discuss the formation of the new body. The AFC currently includes five zonal federations under its umbrella – West, South, Central, East and Southeast Asia – and Shaikh Salman said he would be open to the formation of the SWAFF.

“We had an open and honest discussion on the formation of SWAFF and I made it clear to Mr Ezzat that the AFC had no objection … as long as it remains as a football body outside of the AFC’s zonal structure,” he said, according to the Reuters news agency.

“SWAFF can come into existence on the lines of the Arab Gulf Cup Football Federation or the Union of Arab Football Associations, which are not part of the AFC but serve the greater purpose of bringing together many Gulf and Arab countries for the sole purpose of football development.

“I am happy to note that Mr Ezzat agreed and confirmed that the establishment of SWAFF will not have any impact on the AFC’s five existing zones … and their current composition.”

Five AFC nations have qualified for this summer’s Fifa World Cup in Russia – Saudi Arabia, Iran, South Korea, Japan and Australia, which was previously a member of the Oceania Football Confederation.

Source : sportbusiness.com