Saff future in jeopardy

- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 14, 2018-

The future of the South Asian Football Federation (Saff) was thrown into jeopardy after five of its seven members are reportedly pondering a breakaway sub-continental body—South West Asian Football Federation (SWAFF)—after a meeting in Saudi Arabia.

Barring Nepal and Bhutan, representatives of five other Saff members—India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives—have been reported to have attend the meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, according the several media reports in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen were the other countries from West Asian region to attend the meeting on May 10. The newly proposed body will be centred in Jeddah.

Karma Tsering Sherpa, the newly elected president of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA), said that they

have not received any formal proposal about SWAFF. “I too have heard the report and everything will be clear on May 25 during Asian Football Confederation (AFC) meeting in Malaysia,” said Sherpa. “The main thing is that the newly proposed body gets approval from Fifa and AFC.”

Quoting All India Football Federation general secretary Kushal Das, Hindustan Times reported that the final shape to the new body was likely to come out after the meetings of presidents of the national federations on May 25. “There is a proposal (to form this regional federation) and we said we will examine subject to the approval by the AIFF Executive Committee. It will help in developing Indian football and also improve relationship with these countries,” Das was quoted as saying to the Hindustan Times.

Media reports from Bangladesh said that Bangladesh Football Federation president Kazi Salahuddin, also the president of Saff attended the gathering. “Nothing has matured yet at this stage regarding the meeting in Jeddah,’ Salahuddin has been quoted by Bangladesh based The Daily Star. “There was a meeting in Jeddah where football officials of some South Asian and West Asian countries were present. But no concrete outline regarding any new federation or anything like that was decided upon.”

Some report speculated that the birth of new SWAFF came into fore due to dispute in the West Asian Football Federation between Jordanian president Prince Ali bin Al Hussian and Saudi Arabian authorities after the former turned down offers to shift West Asian Football Federation headquarters from Amman to Jeddah. Other media reports are speculating that the new alliance has been initiated due to political conflict between Saudi Arab and Qatar besides motives of undermining status of AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and former Fifa vice-president Prince Ali bin Al-Hussain, who challenged former president Sepp Blatter in the Fifa presidential election in 2015.

Published: 14-05-2018 09:12

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