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Bangkok: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Executive Committee decided to maintain the current home and away format as per normal practice and to follow the competition regulations in the AFC Champions League 2018 for matches between clubs from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Following the recommendation from the AFC Competitions Committee, the AFC Executive Committee, chaired for the item by Vice President Chung Mong-Gyu, agreed that all concerned Member Associations (MAs) should discuss with their respective governments to seek special permission for football teams/clubs to travel.

The AFC also backed the decision of the AFC Competitions Committee to send a high-level delegation to the concerned countries to try and mediate the situation with the concerned MAs and Governments to find a solution for the matches, which have normally been played on a home and away basis.

Gianni Infantino, the FIFA President, who attended the meeting, also supported the home and away principle in football and added that football and politics must be separated.

It was also decided that the AFC will invite tenders for their Commercial Rights from 2021 onwards, with the exception of the Middle East, by February 2018. The original timeline for the tender process has been rescheduled because of the challenges presented by the current political situation in the Gulf region.

The AFC Executive Committee will consider the awarding of the rights contracts at their meeting to be held in May or June 2018.

The AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, said: “The AFC will ensure that transparent and fair procedures are followed and that the views of the Member Associations are taken into consideration.”

UEFA General Secretary Theodore Theodoridis was invited to present to the Executive Committee on the proposed Global Nations League and it was agreed that there would be further discussion on the project.

The AFC Executive Committee also reiterated its support for the Palestine FA’s case in the Court of Arbitration for Sport in January on what the PFA suggest was a failure by FIFA to follow its statutes and repeated its continued opposition to government interference, which has led to the suspension of the Kuwait Football Association and Pakistan Football Federation by FIFA.

On the eve of AFC Annual Awards 2017 in Bangkok, the AFC Executive Committee accepted the proposal for the 2018 celebration of Asian football to be held in Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman.

Photo: AFC