Asia must build stronger leagues to raise standard

Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam commented to AFCMedia on the performance of the five Asian teams at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany:

“Our results in Germany, with the exception of Australia, have brought great disappointment to many Asian fans. Everyone was expecting our teams to do much better than they did. However, this doesn’t mean that our national associations did not try their level best. It is my belief that this defeat is because of poor competition structures, particularly club competitions, both at national and confederation level. We will not see any improvement at the international standard unless we restructure and improve the professionalism in our clubs and in our leagues.

"We need to professionalise all aspects of the game, including administration and management, to really create professional leagues comparative with those outside Asia. As President of AFC, this is my focus for our next stage of development. We can achieve this, and this should be Asia’s future objective.”

On Australia's entry into the second round, Hammam applauded the new AFC member’s achievement.

“They are our only hope for Asia to be represented in the latter stages of the tournament, and I personally hope they continue into the quarter-finals and beyond. In my mind, a key contributor to their success is that most of their team plays in very strong leagues. They are well prepared for the high standards at the World Cup. We need to build strong leagues in Asia so that our national teams have the same experience to bring to the field in such important competitions.”

See also: Asian FC pleased with Australia's World Cup rise (16 June) and Call for Asia's World Cup teams to 'honour the fans' (18 May)