Tom Bushell talks sport

The contenders to lead the Asian Football Confederation, and looking ahead to the Volvo Ocean Race


In football there are six continental confederations, with FIFA the overall governing body. UEFA is the European arm, and the most well known, with the likes of the UEFA Champions League; here in Asia we have the AFC, aka Asian Football Confederation.

There are 47 countries under the AFC’s control, including the UAE. UAE Football Association President Yousuf Al Serkal is confident of becoming the next AFC president: the decision will be made in Kuala Lumpur on May 2. In the past week Al Serkal has laid out his plans should he be given the role.

There’s no denying he is optimistic, saying last week that he was sure of the win. Should Al Serkal become the AFC president, it can only be good for the continent: he prides himself on success. The two times he has been at the helm in the UAE, the national football team have won the Gulf Cup of Nations. He says football is his ‘family.’

Can anything stand in his way? Well, there are four people in contention for the AFC job: one from Thailand and three from Arabia. That could cause problems in the voting system. The three Arabian candidates may well see votes split between them, while the candidate from Thailand will have a lot of backing from East Asia. That’s not to mention Al Serkal’s friendship with Mohammed bin Hammam, the Qatari former AFC president who was banned from all football activities after being accused of using cash incentives to help his own bid to replace Sepp Blatter at FIFA. Yet Al Serkal is a fantastic leader and if his obsession with the game can take the AFC – and football in Asia – to the next level, he will be a great appointment.

Al Serkal may be racing towards May 2 with his campaign, but another race that will take a lot longer is the Volvo Ocean Race. The round-the-world yacht race, known as the F1 of sailing, has unveiled its route for the 2014/15 race, with the final destinations announced. Lorient in France – aka the world’s sailing capital – will once again stage the penultimate stopover. The race kicks off in Alicante in Spain in October 2014, then heads across the Atlantic to Brazil, before a 9,707-nautical-mile journey across the Southern and Indian Ocean to Abu Dhabi. From here, the fleet will head to Sanya, Auckland, back to Brazil, Newport, Lisbon and Lorient, and finish in Gothenburg.

The race will stop for two weeks in Abu Dhabi, with the destination village in full swing – the 2015 new year celebrations will also be one of the main attractions. The whole route covers 39,895 nautical miles (that’s about 73,866km). Just as well there are no Salik gates in the world’s oceans – it would cost a fortune.
Tom Bushell hosts Sport On 7 on City 7 TV (Mon 8pm) and is Arabian Radio Network’s head of sport.

And another thing…

Australian football fans now have another player close by to watch. Along with Alex Brosque, who applies his trade at Al Ain, Australia’s ‘greatest ever player’ Harry Kewell has signed for Qatari club Al Gharafa on a
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