x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE football chief Yousuf Al Serkal could receive backing from Fifa's Sepp Blatter for AFC candidacy

The UAE Football Association president is one of three nominees from the Gulf region to apply for the post of Asian Football Confederations president.

Yousuf Al Serkal is scheduled to fly to Fifa's headquarters in Zurich on March 27 to meet Blatter and outline his mandate for the AFC presidency. Jaime Puebla / The National
Yousuf Al Serkal is scheduled to fly to Fifa's headquarters in Zurich on March 27 to meet Blatter and outline his mandate for the AFC presidency. Jaime Puebla / The National

Yousuf Al Serkal's campaign to become president of the Asian Football Confederation is set to receive a major boost after it emerged that Sepp Blatter, the head of the game's governing body, Fifa, should be willing to endorse his candidacy.

Al Serkal, the president of the UAE Football Association, is one of three nominees from the region seeking to replace Zhang Jilong, the acting president of the AFC since Mohamed bin Hammam's removal two years ago.

The Emirati faces competition from Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa and Hafez Al Medlej, although the Saudi Arabian is expected to rescind his application and throw his backing behind Al Serkal. Worawi Makudi, of Thailand, is also in the running for the May 2 election.

Al Serkal seems to have a stolen a march on his rivals, though, as he is scheduled to fly to Fifa's headquarters in Zurich on March 27 to meet Blatter and outline his mandate for the presidency.

Also on the agenda will be the strengthening of relationships among the Asian Confederation, proposals to support Fifa's stance on anti-corruption and Al Serkal's advocacy of Blatter's bid for another term as Fifa president.

The two men are said to enjoy a healthy relationship, and Al Serkal's stance on Blatter's continuation in his current role could hold particular sway, especially as Sheikh Salman has indicated a preference for Michel Platini, the current Uefa president.

Following his consultation with Blatter, Al Serkal will visit a number of federations within Asia to confirm the support they promised during last week's AFC meeting in Malaysia.

jmcauley@thenational.ae