(WFI) Football executives are gathering in Jordan for the inaugural Soccerex Asian Forum.

The May 13-14 conference by the Dead Sea is hosted in partnership with the Asian Football Development Project, under the patronage of FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.

In total five FIFA ExCo members are participating – Prince Ali, Moya Dodd, Hani Abo Rida, Sunil Gulati and David Chung – along with officials from the Asian Football Confederation’s executive committee.

Twelve national FA presidents are scheduled to attend; around 192 club, league and federation representatives are expected.

Among the delegates are officials from the 2015 Asian Cup Australia and a host of top football clubs including Liverpool, Manchester City, Barcelona and Galatasaray.

Prince Ali will open the conference on Tuesday morning before taking part in a session discussing the future of Asian football that will feature AFC vice-president Moya Dodd.

A panel will then assess the growth of women’s football in Asia; AFC teams make up three of the top ten FIFA ranked women’s nations.

Amid all the controversy surrounding the Qatar World Cup, one of the most eagerly-awaited sessions was set to inviolve Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the body overseeing preparations. But he pulled out at the last minute, with Soccerex citing government-related reasons.

Qatar 2022’s Nasser Al Khater, executive director for marketing and
communications at the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, will replace him in the session.

With uncertainty remaining over the date of the tournament – likely a move from summer to winter, a FIFA decision coming next spring – and the recent uproar over migrant workers’ conditions, Al Thawadi’s address will be of interest for how it addresses those issues.

Rounding out day one is a session on the challenges for football club in creating strategies which allow for international expansion into the Asian market.

Wednesday opens with a panel of CSR experts discussing football’s role in addressing the main social issues affecting Asia. Tim Vine, head of public affairs at the English Premier League, and an official from the Real Madrid Foundation are among participants.

In a one-on-one interview, David Dein, the former Arsenal and English FA vice-chairman, will share his thoughts on the growth of the global game in an interview with the FA’s former executive director David Davies, who is now a Soccerex consultant.

Qatar 2022’s Al Khater and Mark Falvo, COO of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 organising committee, will take part in a session titled ‘Delivering football’s major events to the world’.

‘Building leagues: a footballing blueprint’ will discuss the development and commercialisation of league football both at home and abroad, with a particular focus on the Asian market.

Adolfo Bara, La Liga’s marketing director, US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati and Jeff Slack, senior VP of global football development at IMG, are among those on the panel.

The conference closes Wednesday evening with a World Cup preview, with former Manchester United and England star Bryan Robson and Ossie Ardiles, a 1978 World Cup winner with Argentina, giving their thoughts on this summer’s tournament in Brazil.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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