05 June 2015
Once a football minnow, the Middle East has emerged as one of the sport’s most powerful blocs during Sepp Blatter’s 17-year reign at FIFA, and is likely to have a big say in who will replace the 79-year-old Swiss, who is stepping down amid a deepening corruption scandal at the organisation.
The Middle East holds power at the 46-member Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the third largest of FIFA’s six regional bodies but boasting the biggest and fastest growing population, a dream ticket for FIFA sponsors like Coca-Cola and Adidas.
The region also boasts an abundance of sponsors willing to plough money into the sport, with Qatari finance behind European giants Barcelona and Paris St Germain, while the emergence of BeIn Sports in the TV rights market has helped the money flow in many other leagues.
… James Dorsey, a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and author of several books on Middle Eastern football politics, reckons Sheikh Ahmad’s power has been weakened by the recent turmoil at FIFA headquarters.
“Things have flipped. Blatter did a 180-degree turn and that has consequences for the federation, including Asia,” Dorsey told Reuters. “Sheikh Ahmad and Salman have been weakened. Those who voted for Blatter because they were afraid can now come out of the dark.”
RSIS / Online
Last updated on 16/11/2015