Seven countries withdraw from Saudi-led football union

TEHRAN, Oct. 31 (MNA) – Seven South Asian countries unanimously withdrew from South West Asian Football Federation (SWAFF) which is led by Saudis.

In a Tuesday statement, All Indian Football Federation wrote, “the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) comprising Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan unanimously decided to pull out of the South West Asian Football Federation (SWAFF) with immediate effect on Tuesday, 30 October 2018, in a meeting held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.”

Formed in August 2018, the SWAFF comprised of 14 members and it was expected to be officially recognized by the Asian Football Confederation as its fifth regional federation.

The SWAFF is headed by former Saudi Arabia Football Federation chief Adel Ezzat, who eyes AFC presidency in the next year. According to reports, the current AFC President Sheikh Salman Al Khalifa has told SAFF members to pull out of the newly formed federation.

Qatar-based Al Raya Daily published a report today saying that the SWAFF mainly aimed to isolate Qatar. Elsewhere the report adds that SAFF members correctly discovered that the real intentions behind the establishment of the alliance were not sports-oriented.

Hamid Reza Asefi, special advisor to Football Federation of Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) in international affairs, said that Saudi Arabia has gathered some countries in a union without any justifiable reason.

Saudis are after fighting against Iran in different fields, he said, adding that they have conceded defeats in political and diplomatic areas and now they are trying their chance in the field of sports.

They are dependent on money and lobbying because they have no capabilities of their own, he noted, adding that their efforts are doomed to failure.

MAH/IRN83084067

News Code 139213

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