In a matter of great national pride, Praful Patel, President of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) has become the first Indian ever to be elected to the FIFA Council, during the 29th Asian Football Confederations Congress (AFC) in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
AFC released its confirmed list of Council Members tweeting:
This landmark development for Indian Football occurred when Patel got 38 of the 46 votes and was elected along with four others from eight contenders who were vying for the council seats.
Patel took to Twitter to thank for the opportunity saying:
AIFF senior Vice-President Subrata Datta who had accompanied Patel along with General secretary Kushal Das, highlighted the impact of this achievement on South-Asian football, saying to PTI:
"Mr Patel's victory is a ‘landmark for Indian football’. Congratulations to Mr. Patel. He fully deserves this honour. His leadership has taken Indian football to greater heights. Asian football will immensely benefit from his presence as a FIFA Council member."
The AFC Electoral committee and the FIFA Review Committee had conducted an eligibility review on all the other contenders for the five available spots in the council which were- A Al- Mohannadi (Qatar), Khalid Awad A. Althebity (Saudi Arabia), Mariano V. Araneta, Jr. (Philippines), Chung Mong Gyu (Korea Republic), Du Zhaocai (China PR), Mehdi Taj (IR Iran) and Kohzo Tashima (Japan).
Earlier on Saturday, the AFC had re-elected Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa as AFC president for a second four-year term until 2023. While initially there were three candidates confirmed by the AFC Electoral Committee following the completion of the eligibility checks on March 1, the number was reduced following the withdrawals of Mohamed Khalfan Matar Saeed Al-Romaithi (UAE) and Saoud A. Aziz M A Al-Mohannadi (Qatar). Both of them threw their full support behind Shaikh Salman for the re-election.