BEIJING, May 9 (Xinhua) -- The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Member Associations have held elections for the four sports allocated to Asia on the FIFA Council at the AFC Congress 2017 on Monday. China's Zhang Jian was elected by acclimation, along with South Korea's Chung Mong Gyu and the Philippines' Mariano Araneta. Zhang's election is widely regarded as one small step toward China someday holding a FIFA World Cup.
The three seats were made available after Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, dropped out on April 30 as he was facing corruption allegations in the US.
The Chinese Football Association released a statement on its official website after Zhang's election: "Zhang Jian standing for the election is a reflection that China is taking an active role in Asian and International football affairs. His election is beneficial to building a great external environment for the development of Chinese football...The Chinese Football Association will continue to fulfill its responsibility and commitment to support the development of football in Asia and the world, and to make more contributions to the development of football in Asia and the world."
It is widely beleived that China has made a concerted effort ahead of this election. Zhang Jilong's leaving the Asian Football Association last July was regarded as a means to make way for Zhang Jian.
Being the head of Chinese Football Association is said to have been a boon to Zhang's win as well. His most important task now, observers say, will be facilitating a Chinese bid for the World Cup.
Biding for the World Cup is the country's football dream, and an integral part of the plan for the future development of football in China.
The Chinese Football Association's aim to bid for a World Cup is a difficult but laudable goal, and one that will require a pioneer and advocate at FIFA. More than anyone else, Zhang Jian clearly fits that bill.