Asia chief to decide soon on Blatter challenge

AFP, Thursday 10 Mar 2011

Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam said Thursday he expects to reveal "within 10 days" whether he plans to challenge Sepp Blatter for the presidency of global governing body FIFA

Blatter & Ben Hamam

Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation, has dropped repeated hints in recent months that is planning to run against Blatter at FIFA elections due to be held in Zurich on June 1.

However Bin Hammam gave his clearest indication yet that he will attempt to topple Blatter in an interview with The Guardian newspaper.

"People have to try change. Change is good," Bin Hammam said on The Guardian's website. "Within 10 days I will formally declare whether I will stand or not."

Bin Hammam, who as president of one the world's largest confederations wields significant influence within FIFA, said he would also back Michel Platini if the UEFA President decided to run against Blatter.

Asian football chief is for change. "I would 100 percent support someone else," Bin Hammam said. "I have not spoken to Michel Platini for a long time but I told him that if he runs he'd have my full support. That remains the case."

Bin Hammam, 61, told the Guardian that if he ran, he would strive to introduce more openness within FIFA's decision-making process to improve accountability.

"I would call for more transparency in FIFA, to widen the decision-making base and bodies within FIFA," he said.

"I'd engage stakeholders more and give them a real platform to express their wishes. We cannot ignore the clubs. We should respect the clubs and it is for the clubs also to respect the member associations."

Bin Hammam said he planned to attend the UEFA Congress in Paris, scheduled for March 22, as he attempts to assess the level of support for any challenge to Blatter.

"Europe is the core of football. I would like now to make a real assessment in Europe. I have not declared myself as a candidate; maybe (upon doing so) it will be easier to see the response then," he said.

"I will go to the Paris Congress of UEFA and I will already have declared my candidacy or otherwise."

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