Jeddah: In order to develop football in the frontier nations, a new football body – South West Asian Football Federation or SWAFF – is set for inception.
Ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, FIFA has pledged its support towards the new body which will include 13 founding nations including, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.
The formation of SWAFF is expected to help more nations qualify for football World Cup events from this region.
As of now, only Saudi Arabia is the only nation in the region to reach the Finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and is scheduled to play Russia in the opening game of world football’s showcase event.
Therefore, the SWAFF initiative is being hailed as a ‘milestone’ in development of frontier football nations.
The 13 founding members of SWAFF will include Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE.
Presidents of football federations in South and West Asia met in Jeddah Thursday with a senior FIFA official attending as an observer to start the formal process of establishing a new body for football to be known as the South West Asian Football Federation (SWAFF).
As the sporting, community and commercial potential of the game are now being developed in South and West Asia, the new organization will help the countries realize their full potential.
The new organisation has been designed to improve the quality of football for people of all ages, genders and levels of ability in the region, which includes some of the world’s biggest frontier football nations such as India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and marks the next stage in the evolution of world football.
Speaking at the meet in Jeddah, Dr Adel Ezzat, President and Chairman of Saudi Arabian Football Federation, said, “We want to see more nations from the region represented at major international football events including the World Cup and to become a presence in world football.”
“The nations of South and West Asia want to work with each other to grow football in the region, and to compete on a more equal playing field at future World Cup competitions and international tournaments,” Dr Adel Ezzat, said after the meeting.
Saudi Arabia is committed to help grow and resource football in the new region, Dr Ezzat said.
The historic meeting heralds the dawn of a new era to build football’s competitiveness and capacity in the sports-oriented countries of South and West Asia.
“We want to see the region become a presence in world football,” Dr Ezzat said.
“The initiative of SWAFF is a milestone in the development of football in Pakistan and other nations. There is no doubt it is a new frontier of football…,” said Makhdoom Faisal Hayat, president of the Pakistan Football Federation.
The new body plans to work with partners, governments, federations and other interested parties in the region to establish new football facilities, academies, and competitions, which will be developed in harmony and in collaboration with FIFA, AFC, and Football Federations within South and West Asia, and within existing football structures, schedules and commitments.
“When we spoke about governance…FIFA is really supporting and encouraging such initiatives …Gianni (Fifa President Gianni Infantino), by himself also welcomed the initiative,” said Abdulla Aljunaibi, vice-president of the UAE football federation.
Funds from new football events and commercial programs will be reinvested into football development to help create a new football sector and culture in member nations that is self-sufficient and fully transparent.
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