Asian Football Confederation poised to abolish presidential term limits. GETTY IMAGES

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are among the four countries proposing the removal of term limits for presidents and elected officials, according to the Associated Press. This would give the green light to the current president, Sheikh Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain. He would be able to continue in office when his term ends in 2027.

All signs point to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) following in the footsteps of UEFA and the IOC. FIFA was the first to abolish the 12-year limit, with leader Gianni Infantino taking power in 2016 but manoeuvring to ensure his first three years didn't count towards his term, completing the mandate of his ousted predecessor Sepp Blatter. UEFA saw a split between its president Aleksander Ceferin and senior colleagues before members voted in February to allow him, like Infantino, to stay on for 15 years until 2031. Some of his most trusted lieutenants, such as former Milan player Zvonimir Boban, one of the most famous footballers of the 1990s, decided to resign. They did not agree.

At the moment, it's still uncertain whether Thomas Bach, the president of the IOC, will be stepping down in 2025 at the end of his 12-year term. Everyone has an opinion, but nobody knows. And it won't be known until after the Paris Olympics in 2024. With this scenario in mind, all eyes are now on the AFC Congress in Bangkok in the coming days, where the members' votes will be put on the table. As reported by the Associated Press, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are proposing the removal of the limits that prevent presidents and other elected officials from extending their terms in office.

If the proposal is approved, the current president of the AFC, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, could remain in office beyond 2027, when his term is due to expire. Sheikh Salman was first elected in 2013. He's now in his third and, unless the rules change, final term. The AFC did not respond to questions about the proposal sent to AP on Monday. Term limits are a tool to prevent the accumulation of excessive power in the hands of leaders and corruption cases due to international favouritism.

The accumulation of power by presidents is prevented by term limits. GETTY IMAGES
The accumulation of power by presidents is prevented by term limits. GETTY IMAGES

Scandals have occurred and time-limits seem essential to further counter possible excesses of power that can happen when officials remain in office without anyone being able to exercise control. Multiple cases made global headlines and forced the IOC and FIFA to introduce limits. Once groups of high-ranking officials were involved in bribery and global crisis in the IOC and FIFA., the organisations proceeded to later limit presidenttal terms to 12 years in office. 

A former anti-corruption adviser to FIFA, Swiss law professor Mark Pieth, told the Associated Press last year: "Term limits are one of the essential points. Otherwise you invite corruption". Sheikh Salman would need a rule change if he wants to remain in office. From 2019, FIFA's statutes will limit the 37 members of its executive committee to a maximum of three four-year terms. AP also spoke to Yasser al Misehal, the head of the Saudi Football Association, who is a candidate if the position becomes vacant in 2027. Misehal said: "To be honest, it's too early" to take a position on what might happen". 

The Saudi FA, along with Qatar, Uzbekistan and Lebanon, chaired an AFC Governance Task Force this year to lobby for rules to be changed to allow Sheikh Salman to stay on, according to the Associated Press.