x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE football chief Yousuf Al Serkal confident as he hits campaign trail

He predicts a close presidential election race for the Asian Football Confederation, writes Ahmed Rizvi.

UAE Football Association president Yousuf Al Serkal talked about the upcoming Asian Football Confederation elections and his upcoming campaign trail. Jaime Puebla / The National
UAE Football Association president Yousuf Al Serkal talked about the upcoming Asian Football Confederation elections and his upcoming campaign trail. Jaime Puebla / The National

Yousuf Al Serkal has predicted a close contest in the vote to elect the new president of the Asian Football Confederation, but fancies his chances of topping the four-way ballot.

Al Serkal, the president of the UAE Football Association, will be up against Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia's Hafez Al Medlej and Worawi Makudi of Thailand in the vote in Kuala Lumpur on May 2.

"All four candidates have an equal chance of winning," Al Serkal said at a news conference. "So it is going to be a really tight contest. Makudi has the support of 12 ASEAN [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] countries and other East Asian nations. Sheikh Salman has the backing of the Olympic Council of Asia and I have the support of many unions.

"So I don't expect the elections to be decided in the first round, because to obtain a two-thirds vote is very difficult, if not impossible."

Al Serkal is travelling to Switzerland next week to meet the Fifa president Sepp Blatter and believes the support of world football's top official could swing many votes his way.

"Blatter certainly carries a lot of weight and he has a special relationship with member associations around the world, especially Asia. So he will have a big impact on a lot of the associations. And he is a friend."

Al Serkal said he had already visited many of the member associations to seek their support for his bid, and he will soon be a naming a committee to further mobilise his election campaign.

"My chances of winning are big, but we cannot be overly optimistic," he said. "We have managed to obtain promises from many Asian federations and I have visited 70 per cent of the countries until now."

arizvi@thenational.ae

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