ABU DHABI, 24th June, 2020 (WAM) — Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, President of the Asian Football Confederation, AFC, praised the United Arab Emirates Football Association, UAEFA, for their initiative in organising the most-timely of international conventions today.
The AFC President, in his opening address, delivered by video link said: “The timing of this event is perfect and so is the title: ‘COVID-19 and Football – How to Shape a New future.’
“I congratulate the United Arab Emirates Football Association in partnership with the UAE Pro League and the International Sports Convention, ISC, on this initiative.
“And that we gather today via video link and webinar rather than meeting in person is the clear indication that the world has changed and changed dramatically.
“More and more we see that such conferences and even the FIFA and AFC meetings and Congress will become online events like this excellent initiative by the UAE FA, who under their new leadership have shown themselves to be at the forefront of innovation.”
Sheikh Salman, who was joined at the webinar by AFC General Secretary Dato’ Windsor John, added: “These have been uncertain and unprecedented times not only in the history of our great game but also in the modern world.
“We have seen the world closedown. And our game, football which brings joy and excitement to billions across the globe has also been suspended as we put the health and safety of all our stakeholders as a priority.
“But now we are seeing the first glimmers of light as our teams return to training and many Leagues plan to restart.
“Seasons, though, have been cancelled despite exhaustive and determined attempts to play the games. In other cases, seasons have been shortened or delayed.
“But in almost all of these examples the matches that will be played will do so without spectators. We all agree that this cannot be the new normal but a transition back to a time when our game can be played safely with crowds present.
“The interaction between the player, the action and the fan is one of the defining elements of our sport. We must look to maintain that relationship as much as possible – when it is safe to do so.
Shaikh Salman also outlined how the AFC has contributed to the Asian football family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added: “Throughout this pandemic we have worked with all our Member Associations, Leagues and clubs in the confidence that competitions such as the AFC Champions League and the Asian National Team Qualifiers can return.
“It is another demonstration of the AFC’s unity and determination to assist its Member Associations to prosper and for their teams to take part in top level competitions. The world will change but change can be positive. Through solidarity and unity, we will rise together stronger.”