December 21 - Asia's FIFA vice-president has called for an end to disunity in the region and has urged the various factions to bury their differences and set the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on a new path of reconciliation.
In the week when Mohamed Bin Hammam walked away from football, Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein (pictured top) says the time has come for Bin Hammam's supporters and opponents to end the politics and pull together for the benefit of the game.
While Bin Hammam was trumpeted in many quarters for revamping Asian football and making it more professional, others accused him of unfairly favouring some member nations over others during the period he was AFC President.
Prince Ali, head of the Jordan Football Association, says the squabbling must not be allowed to continue.
"It's crucial now to start focussing our football institutions by executing the necessary reforms which would allow Asia to reach its full potential," he told insidethegames.
Bin Hammam's exit, following accusations that he mismanaged AFC funds for personal use and committed "repeated violations" of FIFA's code of ethics, opens the way for a new AFC President with elections slated for next April.
Candidates are expected to come forward in the New Year and are likely to include Bahrain Football Association President Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, AFC vice-president Yousuf Al-Serkal from the United Arab Emirates who has made no secret of his intention to stand, and the present interim President, Jilong Zhang of China.
Four years ago, Sheikh Salman - whose family rules Bahrain - narrowly failed to replace Bin Hammam on FIFA's Executive Committee and the race is now on again to fill one of Asia's places at the top table of world football.
Prince Ali, who has been endeavouring to steer a delicate path between the various factions in east and west Asia, says it is crucial that whoever takes over from Bin Hammam full time has a manifesto based on footballing priorities rather than politics.
In other words, show Asian football is clean while improving performances on the pitch.
"I have no problem with any [AFC Presidential] candidate," he said.
"All I care about is that they have a real manifesto, a real platform.
"The AFC have gone through a very difficult 18 months.
"What is most important now is that the next President deals with all the issues in the best interests of the AFC.
"Asian football needs to move forward."
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