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Sheikh Salman re-elected as AFC president for third term

Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa

Kuala Lumpur, April 6: Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa was re-elected unopposed as president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for a third term, after his main rivals, Mohammed Al Romaithi from the United Arab Emirates and Qatar's Saoud Al Mohannadi, withdrew from the contest.

The formal announcement came during the 29th AFC Congress held in the Malaysian capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

Sheikh Salman was not present at the meeting due to the death of his mother earlier in the week.

The 53-year-old, will extend his reign as president until at least 2023, by which time he would have completed a 10-year spell in charge of the 47-member body after initially completing the truncated term of former president Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar.

He took over for the last two years of Bin Hammam's stint as AFC president after the Qatari was banned for life by FIFA from all football activities for his involvement in a corruption scandal.

A member of the Bahrian royal family, Sheikh Salman first came to prominence in footballing circles in 2009 when he faced off against Bin Hammam for a seat on FIFA's decision making body, a ballot he lost by a single vote.

However, he won the presidential election in 2013 and was returned unopposed in 2015 before running unsuccessfully against Gianni Infantino for the position of FIFA president the following year.

Initially elected on a platform of accountability, he has becoming increasingly distant during his presidency, rarely taking questions from the media since winning his second term of office.

The former Bahrain Football Association president has denied accusations he was involved in human rights abuses by the Gulf state's ruling family during a crackdown on democracy protesters in 2011.

The issue resurfaced in January when Sheikh Salman's position in world football was questioned by campaigners seeking the release of former Bahrain international Hakeem Al Araibi from a Thai detention centre under threat of extradition to the Gulf state.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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Story first published: Saturday, April 6, 2019, 15:02 [IST]
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