First Elected President for Saudi Football Federation

Mohammed al-Saif writes:

Last week an amazing and irregular event took place, in one of our sporting landmarks. The members of the General Assembly of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) have elected through popular voting, their first president.

Ahmed Eid, a former renowned Saudi football player, was elected on Thursday Dec. 20, 2012 as SAFF president for the term of four years. He won the elections by getting 32 votes against 30 for his rival Khalid Al-Muammar.

Saudis were witnessing for the very first time in their lives a government official being elected through what they used to consider as a western ballot system. People eagerly followed a televised presidential debate between the two candidates the previous day.

The debate and the election were indeed irregular, but al-Saif is wrong to call Ahmed Eid a “government official.” Actually, the election took place specifically because FIFA insists that national football federations must be independent from governments. In 2008 FIFA suspended Kuwait from international football because its government “has continued to interfere” in the affairs of the Kuwaiti football federation.