AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has announced his federation's backing for the re-election of FIFA President Gianni Infantino next year ©Getty Images

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has confirmed he will seek a further term as President next year as he spoke of his gratitude to national football associations in the region for helping the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also signalled the "wholehearted support of the AFC and the Asian football family" for FIFA President Gianni Infantino’s re-election campaign next year.

"Despite the omicron variant, we ushered 2022 with confidence and we owe a great deal of gratitude to all our host Member Associations, our participating teams and clubs for showcasing great unity during our most challenging hour," Shaikh Salman told his members in a virtual address.

"As we take a moment to reflect, it is clear that the AFC, our members and our regional associations are well on the road to recovery," he added.

The 2023 AFC Asian Cup was due to be held in China, but the country announced last week it had relinquished hosting rights as it aims to deal with its worst COVID-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic. 

Shaikh Salman highlighted how the AFC qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup had been "safely and successfully delivered."

"Credit must also go to all our members and regional associations for safely managing the return of football events and their competitions," Shaikh Salman said.

The Asian Champions League and Women’s AFC Cup had both gone ahead and qualification is underway in this year’s Champions League, the AFC Cup and AFC Futsal Cup.

The FIFA President has also agreed to consider funding the building of the AFC’s own state-of-the-art football stadium in Putrajaya, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 

Shaikh Salman also hailed the efforts of the AFC’s child safeguarding programme and the development of programmes for referees and other technical officials.