AFC's General Secretary Peter Velappan to retire

Long-serving Asian Football Confederation General Secretary, Dato Peter Velappan has announced that he would be stepping down at the end of this year after 30 years of meritorious service. Velappan, affectionately known as Dato, took over as the General Secretary of then fledgling AFC in 1977 and has since then played a dynamic role in transforming the way the game is played in Asia. “The time has come to say goodbye,” Velappan told the AFC Executive Committee today, as quoted by AFCMedia. “I have served Asian football for long and am happy at the way the AFC has grown. When I look back at my journey, it is nothing less than a dream. We started out in a small office with one secretary and look at what the AFC and Asian football have achieved today…I am overwhelmed.”

The 71-year-old Velappan’s vision and relentless membership drive saw the AFC grow from its humble roots to over 46 countries today, the most populous of FIFA’s six confederations. “I have experienced the best years of my life at the helm of the AFC, serving a sport which is very dear to me,” said Velappan, who served as the Coordination Director of the Organising Committee for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. I will take some time off for myself now to write about the history of Asian football and memoirs of my life.”

Velappan, who also in charge of AFC’s revolutionary Vision Asia program, said he has no doubts about AFC’s position in the near future as "we are scaling the heights like never before. In five to ten years’ time we will be on top of the world.”

AFC President Mohamed Bin Hammam announced that Deputy General Secretary Dato Paul Mony Samuel will take over as the General Secretary effective 1 January 2007. He said Velappan will be associated with AFC and will continue as the Director of Vision Asia “as long as he wants” besides being the Tournament Director of the AFC Asian Cup 2007 to be co-hosted by Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.