x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

AFC elections: Yousuf Al Serkal takes the defeat in his stride

UAE official says he will hold no grudges despite acrimonious week up to the AFC election. "Just like we celebrate after a win, we need to accept defeats as well," he says. "This is what sports teaches us."Ahmed Rizvi reports

The UAE Football Association president Yousuf Al Serkal took solace from the fact an Arab won the election to be AFC president..
The UAE Football Association president Yousuf Al Serkal took solace from the fact an Arab won the election to be AFC president..

KUALA LUMPUR // Yousuf Al Serkal said he was shocked by the low number of votes he received at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) presidency elections on Thursday, but the UAE Football Association chief insist he holds no "grudges" against the winning camp following a bitter campaign.

Al Serkal was expecting to give Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim a tough fight at the ballots, but received only six votes as his Bahraini opponent clinched the battle in the opening round of voting itself with 33 votes - two more than the 31 required for a two-thirds majority.

"I never expected to receive just six votes," Al Serkal said after finishing third in a three-man race.

"It is much lower than what we expected. In fact, it is lower than the number of votes I expected from our West Asia zone alone.

"But I guess the winning party did better than us and congratulations to Sheikh Salman. We worked as hard as we could, so there is no shame.

"There were no irregularities in the voting and it was all very transparent. We have to just accept the result and move on.

"Just like we celebrate after a win, we need to accept defeats as well. This is what sports teaches us. This is the spirit that we keep talking about."

During the days leading up to the elections, Al Serkal and Sheikh Salman traded plenty of accusations, especially over the backing of Olympic Council of Asia chief Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad for the Bahraini.

Both parties have, however, decided to bury the hatchet and work together in the future.

"He talked bad about me, but I forgive him," Sheikh Ahmad said after Sheikh Salman's triumph.

"The important thing is an Arab won the contest."

Al Serkal accepted the peace offer, and said: "These tensions are normal during an election. Statements are made in the heat of the moment, just like it happens on the football pitch. The important thing is to put it behind once the match is over.

"So I welcome Sheikh Ahmad's words. He is a brother and a good man.

"At the end of this competition, I hold no grudges against anyone. We are siblings and have learnt to keep good relations, from our elders.

"The relationship between us in the Gulf states runs deep and some sporting contest will never be able to change that."

 

arizvi@thenational.ae

 

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