Saudi Arabia is backing a planned new 14-nation football federation in Asia aimed at boosting some of the region's emerging nations in the game.
Presidents of football federations in South and West Asia met in Jeddah on Thursday with a senior FIFA official attending as an observer to start the formal process of establishing a new organisation to be known as the South West Asian Football Federation (SWAFF).
The nations represented at the meeting included Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Maldives, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, and the UAE.
"The nations of South and West Asia want to work with each other to grow football in the region, and to compete on a more equal playing field at future World Cup competitions and international tournaments," Dr Adel Ezzat, President and Chairman of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation said in a press release issued by organisers.
AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa met with Ezzat to discuss the formation of SWAFF last week, the AFC said in statement.
"We had an open and honest discussion on the formation of SWAFF and I made it clear to Mr Ezzat that the AFC had no objection ... as long as it remains as a football body outside of the AFC's zonal structure," Shaikh Salman was quoted as saying.