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(Asian Football Confederation)

Formed in 1954 with twelve founder members, the federation representing the national football (soccer) associations of Asia; the first president was Sir Man Kam-loh from Hong Kong. By 2007 the confederation had 46 member associations, and, as its official website claimed, represented ‘over half of the world's football fans’, 3.7 billion people, making it ‘the most populous of FIFA's six federations’ (for FIFA see Fédération Internationale de Football Association). As general secretary Peter Velappan wrote in 1996, the diversity of this membership has created huge challenges to a confederation comprising oil-rich states of the Gulf region, major economies ranging from Japan to China, and less well resourced and sometimes corruptly administered South-East Asian states—as well as five former Soviet republics which entered the confederation in the 1990s.

In its fiftieth year the AFC described football as ‘Asia's unifying passion’, confirming its commitment to the Asia Cup (for national teams) and the AFC Champions League, and confirming the implementation of its Vision Asia mission. An element in this mission was demonstrated in March 2007 when English football club Chelsea signed an agreement which, in Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon's words, ‘fits with Chelsea's strategy of being recognized internationally by 2014 as the world's number one club. Achieving that is not possible without considering Asia in a serious and holistic way.’ While the AFC could send young talent to train at the club, Chelsea could brand itself in the extensive Asian (including Chinese) market, anticipating unprecedented sales of club-related merchandise.

The headquarters of the AFC were moved to a purpose-built facility, AFC House, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2000. The president in 2007 was Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar; the general secretary was Dato' Paul Mony Samuel of Malaysia, carrying on Malaysia's commitment to the AFC as represented in long-serving former general secretary Dato' Peter Velappan. Criteria of membership remain quite fluid; Israel is a member of the European federation, while Australia left Oceania to join the more competitive AFC (which also had more World Cup qualification places to compete for).

http://www.the-afc.com/ The official site of the AFC (Asian Football Confederation), including membership details, schedules, and statutes.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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