WAFF Competitions Committee Reviews the Latest Developments of the 2021 Championships
The committee was held a meeting through video-conference on Thursday April 29, 2021 with the presence of Khalil Al Salem, General Secretary of WAFF, chaired by Hussein Saeed (Iraq), and with the presence of vice-president Jihad Al Chohof (Lebanon), and the members: Dr. Khalid bin Mukren (KSA), Salah Al Qanaei (Kuwait), Saif Al Mansoori (UAE), Hamad Al Mannai (Qatar), Ibrahim Al Buainain (Bahrain), and Dr. Ibrahim Abazid (Syria).
Hussein Saeed, President of the committee, began the meeting by welcoming the members and stressed the importance of the committee and its role in reviewing and formulating all the competitions that WAFF intends to organize within its agenda for 2021, and pointed out the problems that these competitions encountered in the case of all sporting and football events in the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the stops imposed by it, where postponements were and are required.
Saeed valued the role of WAFF represented by its president, HRH Prince Ali Bin Al Hussain, the General Secretary, and all the staff, and the need to work to ensure the establishment of the championships this year was stressed, in order to restore them after the interruptions that hit most of them last year.
On his part, Al Salem welcomed the members of the committee and conveyed to them the greetings of WAFF, referring to their active role and their accumulated experience in the field of competitions, and noting the importance of the committee in light of the growing role of the federation at the continental level through the large volume of activities it organizes.
Abeer Al Rantisi, Head of Competitions at WAFF, presented WAFF’s strategy and agenda for the year 2021, represented by setting tournaments in line with AFC's agenda so that they are considered preparatory tournaments for AFC and FIFA competitions, increasing competition and providing tournaments for member associations to ensure continuity of activity for all age groups, which ensures the achievement of the desired technical goals.
In addition to playing an effective role in developing beach soccer in the region, and since WAFF is looking forward this year to organize the 2nd WAFF Beach Soccer Championship, as well as play an active role in developing futsal, as well as including the 10th WAFF Men Championship on the competitions agenda. WAFF played an effective role in developing electronic football and will continue to do so by organizing tournaments that serve member associations in this field.
The committee reviewed the following competitions: 10th WAFF Men Championship hosted by UAE, the 2nd WAFF U23 Men Championship, the 2nd WAFF U19 Boys Championship, the 8th WAFF U16 Boys Championship, the 2nd WAFF Beach Soccer Championship, the 4th WAFF Men Futsal Championship, and the electronic football tournaments.
With regard to the 10th WAFF Men Championship, which has been postponed from the beginning of the current year, the proposed dates were discussed in line with the AFC, FIFA and Arab/Gulf commitments and entitlements, where there was unanimity on the need for continued coordination to agree on setting its new, final and accurate date, through consultation and discussion with the UAE (host member association) and the Gulf Cup, especially when the date of the Gulf Cup is not clear yet, and with the pressure of entitlements, particularly at the level of the men's national teams.
Furthermore, the men's championship would witness the participation of 12 associations representing all the federations under the umbrella of WAFF: Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Palestine, in addition to the UAE, which is participating and hosting for the first time.
In addition, the committee discussed the 2nd WAFF U23 Men Championship and presented the possibility of holding it with the assembly system due to the Covid-19 pandemic, reviewing proposals for its dates and stressing the need to organize it as it provides a preparatory station for the teams before the start of the Asian Qualifiers scheduled for October 2021, with the start of directing invitations to member associations to host the competition, and then to settle on the date.
It was agreed to hold the 2nd WAFF U19 Boys Championship from 1 to 10 November 2021, to consult with Palestine Football Association to host it, and to highlight its importance in the absence of tournaments for this category on the AFC agenda this year as part of the AFC's strategy to change the age groups participating in the Asian Qualifiers.
Meanwhile, the agreement was reached on the recommendation to hold the 8th WAFF U16 Boys Championship during October 2021, hosted by the Saudi Arabia Football Federation.
The committee also reviewed the report on the 2nd WAFF Beach Soccer Championship that WAFF intends to organize during the period from 24 to 30 November 2021 as part of its strategy to develop the game, in cooperation with the BSWW, where the host association will be identified after addressing the member associations during the coming period in this regard.
As for the 4th WAFF Men Futsal Championship, the recommendation of the Competitions Department was approved to organize it during the period from 9 to 17 August 2021, so that it precedes the Asian Qualifiers scheduled from 13 to 24 October 2021, and that the host country will be determined later.
Finally, the report of eWAFF football tournaments that WAFF aims to expand its reach in the region and give the opportunity to all players and fans to enjoy the game was reviewed.
After the great success that was achieved after the organization of the first edition of the eWAFF Invitational during the period from 2 to 4 April 2021, WAFF is also seeking to include electronic football tournaments (online and offline) periodically on the agenda of its competitions under the umbrella of FIFA.
The report revealed that WAFF is looking forward to organizing its second electronic football tournament from 1 to 4 July 2021 (during the FIFA approved eFriendly days) so that all matches are played online, in addition to organizing the 3rd eWAFF Tournament from 16 to 19 November 2021, in an offline system, where the member associations will be addressed in the upcoming period to determine a host.
As well, eWAFF Invitational, which was the first of its kind at the regional level, was officially entered into the FIFA classification and rankings, and its results were approved in the draw for the e Nations Cup for the West Asia and Africa group, which will be organized by FIFA from 20 to 22 August in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In this context, the committee focused on the need to expand electronic football, create partnerships with the parties concerned with this type of games, and motivate member associations to practice them.