Asia chief to reveal FIFA presidency aspirations

AFP, Monday 14 Mar 2011

Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam will announce on Friday whether he intends to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency.

Bin Hammam
Mohamed Bin Hammam and Sepp Blatter

Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), has dropped repeated hints in the past two months that he may stand and has been gauging possible support.

He will hold a news conference at the headquarters of the Asian Football Confederation in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

Bin Hammam posted a message on the microblogging site Twitter which said: "I will hold a press conference on Friday, March 18, at AFC House. I will clarify my position regarding the FIFA presidency elections, which take place in June 2011."

Bin Hammam was once a close ally of Blatter and one of the driving forces behind his campaign to be elected in 1998.

The pair fell out two years ago and Bin Hammam's stunning success in securing the 2022 World Cup for Qatar has stimulated him to consider a challenge.

The FIFA presidential election is due to take place in Zurich on June 1.

Blatter was bullish last week when asked about a possible challenge.

He said: "If you want to see new faces then okay, every four years we have an election. I have received support from different national associations to stand again.

"If I win okay, if I lose I say thank you then go away. You will have your new face and then we will see what will happen.

"But I think it's not new faces we shall have in FIFA."

FIFA and its 74-year-old president came under heavy fire last year over alleged corruption.

It also faced condemnation by some for awarding the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 event to Qatar amid claims that the voting system of world football's governing body aids collusion and secrecy.

In an interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper last week Bin Hammam, 61, said 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."

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