Mohammed Khalfan Al-Romaithi has revealed his manifesto, entitled ‘Making Football Fair’, after launching his bid to become president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

Al Romaithi will go up against current AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Khalifa, who is seeking a third term, as well as Qatar’s Saoud Al Mohannadi, a current AFC vice president, at the election in Kuala Lumpur on April 6.

The official launch of the Al Romaithi campaign took place on March 7 at the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, with the Emirati promising to “make significant levels of new investment for every Member Association, increase participation at all levels of the game” and introduce genuine “transparency and independence”.

Al Romaithi claimed that it is time to end years of inadequate investment and poor governance, which has stalled the development of the world’s most popular game in the world’s biggest football continent.

The chairman of the General Authority for Sports in the UAE unveiled a comprehensive, fully-funded manifesto designed to make football fair for all in Asia, and more competitive internationally.

“I have seen first-hand how the power of football can change the lives of everyone for the better, but in Asia this power has been abused to the detriment of our people,” Al-Romaithi said.

“I want every boy and girl from every nation, from every faith and of every age to have the chance to play football and dream of one day lifting the World Cup.

“Now is the time for change, now is the time for a new era, now is the time to make football fair for all.”

Among Al-Romaithi’s manifesto were pledges to:

  • Introduce a financial governance index to ensure all grants are means tested
  • Invest a minimum of $2 million every year in every AFC Member Association
  • Invest a minimum of $1 million every year in each regional federation (a total of $20 million per term) to support regional development, competitions and administration
  • Ensure that every Member Association national team plays a minimum of five matches per year
  • Make football fair for Asia’s youths by establishing annual competitions for all age groups from U14-U23

“We need to modernise our failing football system and create more opportunities to play the beautiful game,” said Al-Romaithi, who represented Al Ain at youth level. “All member associations need to give youth a fair chance with more opportunities to play, learn and progress – unlocking their full potential.

“More international football at a young age will encourage the development of our best players and allow us to be truly competitive with our European, North and South American and African counterparts.”

“Integrity, transparency, fairness will become the bedrock of my presidency.”

On the financial side, Al-Romaithi vowed to establish five regional AFC development offices, publish detailed annual financial reports and create an independent office of budgetary responsibility.

“The AFC stands under a dark cloud, one shrouded in politics and poor governance,” he said. “My manifesto is underpinned by my values, values that have been instilled in me through a lifetime of service to my country and my continent.

“Integrity, transparency, fairness and respect are the fundamental principles by which I live my life and they will become the bedrock of my presidency.”

Al Romaithi will begin a three-week tour of Asia sharing and discussing his manifesto for reform with football and sporting leaders across the region leading up to the AFC Session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 6 April.

“Football gives hope for a better world,” Al Romaithi said. “That is why I want to create a confederation that is based on excellence and that is fair and equal for all. “To prepare for that future we must begin today.”