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Yousuf Al Serkal won the election by 26 votes.
Yousuf Al Serkal won the election by 26 votes.

New FA president is eager to roll out his plans

Al Serkal is in favour of expanding the Pro League to 14 teams, and will focus on "the national and the Olympic teams, and at the same time the Pro League."

ABU DHABI // Yousuf Al Serkal was last night elected president of the Football Association with a landslide majority.

Al Serkal won by 26 votes to two with two spoilt papers to defeat Abdullah Hareb Al Falahi and secure a second four-year term in a ballot at the National Centre for Documents and Research.

The new president has already laid out his objectives for the FA.

"My top priority definitely is the national and the Olympic teams, and at the same time the Pro League, which is to improve the mentality of not only the players but the officials as well," he said.

Al Serkal said they had a few names on a shortlist for the role of senior national team coach, including Mahdi Ali, the UAE Olympic team coach.

He also did not rule out Diego Maradona, the Al Wasl coach.

"He is now in the UAE family of football and we cannot overlook such an influential name in football," Al Serkal said. "He will be considered."

He is also in favour of expanding the Pro League to 14 teams but said this would have to be decided by the board.

Al Serkal is also running for presidency of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and he said his victory sent a strong message to football federations in Asia.

"I being supported by the government for the AFC presidency and this overwhelming result is a message for Asia," he said.

"I am not only officially supported by the government but by the clubs as well."

There were accusation in the lead-up to the elections with the rival camp accusing Al Serkal for breaching FA ad Fifa statutes.

"From my side it was not bad at all," Al Serkal said when he was asked about the allegations.

"I made sure that I remain calm and don't react. I didn't make any announcement out of the subject and didn't even touch my opponent.

"I am sorry when the campaign began there were some negative messages sent, but that is not how elections are campaigned in the UAE, where democracy is very well respected."

When asked if he could handle roles of FA president and vice president of the Olympic Committee, as well as his campaign to become the AFC president, he said: "There is an Arabic saying for every subject there is a speech. When that subject comes we will deliver the speech."

Al Serkal's first term as the FA president ended in 2006 and he was appointed the interim head following the resignation of Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi in December.

Thani Murshid Al Rumaithi of Al Jazira and Obaid Salem Al Shamsi of Hatta were elected as vice presidents.

Khaled Awadh, the deputy chief executive officer of Al Wahda, said the win for Al Serkal proves he was the right man to head the body overseeing country's most popular sport.

"If the sport has to improve, there are a lot of things to be done, and I can only wish the newly elected president has the experience and imagination to take it to the next level in terms of improvement all round."

apassela@thenational.ae

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