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Asian football body scraps term limits for top leaders

Asia’s governing body for football voted Thursday to scrap term limits for its president and other top leaders, allowing them to rule indefinitely, scrapping reforms brought in after the scandals that rocked FIFA a decade ago.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) decided at its congress in Bangkok to abolish rules limiting the president and executive committee members to a maximum of three four-year terms in office.

The change paves the way for Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, currently in his third term as AFC president, to seek re-election in 2027 when he had been due to step down.

The Bahraini royal said in a statement that the changes were a “clear signal of our intent to ensure that we remain a model confederation that continues to uphold the highest ethical standards and best governance practices for the future generations of our great game”.

Of the 47 AFC member countries, only Australia and Jordan opposed the rule change, which was proposed by Lebanon, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — which hosted the 2022 World Cup.

The AFC said in a statement to AFP that it is “committed to good governance, transparency and integrity in its operations”.

“There are robust checks and balances within the AFC which acknowledge the changing dynamics of football governance and enable the AFC to operate more effectively in a rapidly evolving landscape,” the statement said.

Salman took the reins in 2013 with the AFC in disarray after his predecessor, Qatari businessman Mohamed bin Hammam, was banned from football for life following bribery claims and conflict-of-interest violations.

The huge corruption scandal that engulfed FIFA in 2015 led to governance changes such as term limits being introduced by a number of regional confederations.

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