Soccer-Salman retains AFC presidency as Saudi confirmed to host Asian Cup

FILE PHOTO: FIFA presidential candidate Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa of Bahrain (C) reacts after the first ballot votre during the Extraordinary Congress in Zurich, Switzerland February 26, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

MANAMA (Reuters) - Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa officially retained his role as the Asian Football Confederation's president for a final four-year term on Wednesday as Saudi Arabia was confirmed as the host of the 2027 Asian Cup.

The Bahraini, who took over at the head of the Asian confederation in 2013 when he was elected to complete the remaining two years of deposed former president Mohammed bin Hammam's reign, stood unopposed and was elected by acclamation.

His new four-year term will be his last due to limits imposed under the governing body's statutes and the 57-year-old will have been in charge of Asian football for 14 years by the time his stint ends in 2027.

"I'd like to thank you all for placing your faith in me for another four-year term," Sheikh Salman told delegates. "It really humbles me, gives me such honour to have all the trust of the Asian confederation.

"It gives me a big responsibility, but it's thanks to you all because you made all this happen. I hope I can live up to your expectations as well in the next four years."

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

A member of the Bahrain 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.

He was returned unopposed again in 2019 after two candidates withdrew prior to the election.

Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, was confirmed as the host of the 2027 edition of the Asian Cup as the congress ratified their selection after India, Iran, Qatar and Uzbekistan had earlier withdrawn from the bidding process.

Saudi Arabia's Yasser Al Misehal was elected to the FIFA Council alongside Japan's Kohzo Tashima, Sheikh Hamad Khalifa Al Thani from Qatar, Mariano Araneta of the Philippines and Malaysia's Haji Hamidin bin Haji Mohd Amin.

Laos' Kanya Keomany was elected to take the FIFA Council seat reserved for female representation.

(Reporting by Michael Church in Manama, Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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