Asian football caretaker chief quits election 'out of own will'
Beijing, March 3 (IANS): Asian football caretaker chief Zhang Jilong confirmed Sunday that he will not run for the election of AFC president. The decision was made “totally out of his own will”, he said.
Zhang formally announced his decision on the day which is the registration deadline for running the election in early May.
“I will not run for the Asian Football Association presidency. I made this decision totally out of my own will and with careful thinking,” the 61-year-old told Xinhua.
Zhang took the reins in June 2011 after former AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam was banned from football activities over bribery accusations which he denies. He will stay on as senior vice president of AFC.
“I am really honoured that I was entrusted with the caretaker job while AFC was in its most difficult time.
“I am happy that I did my part to maintain the stability of AFC and my job has been done. It is time to elect a new leader for the AFC.”
With Zhang dropping out, the election will see two candidates, namely Thai football chief Worawi Makudi and Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa fight it out for the top spot.
Zhang said he hoped less competition in the election will bring more harmony to AFC.
“Peace has been a rare thing in AFC and I am sure that every member would like to see it again,” said Zhang.
“Hopefully my withdrawal will reduce the tension and bring more unity and harmony to the Asian football family.”