'I will challenge Blatter'

2011-03-18 07:50

Kuala Lumpur - Asian football chief Mohamed bin Hammam on Friday declared he will challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency in June, opening a bitter fight for the football world's top post.

Bin Hammam, the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), said he decided to stand against 75-year-old Blatter, who has been the world governing body president for 13 years, after "careful study".

"Today after careful study, consideration... armed with my love for football I have decided to contest in the upcoming FIFA presidential elections scheduled in June 2011," he told reporters at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

"The time is right to contest for the FIFA presidency. I have the will to serve people and I always said competition and change is good for any organisations," said the Asian football supremo.

Bin Hammam himself has been the AFC president since 2002 and is now in his third and final term.

When asked about his chances against Blatter, he said the time had come for a new face in FIFA.

"My chances are 50-50," the 61-year-old Qatari said.

"Blatter is an experienced person, he has made significant contribution to football worldwide but I believe there is a time limit for everything. There is now a time for a new face and a new heir," he said.

"I hope Asia will be united behind me and also I hope there will be support from other confederations," he added.

During his 20-minute speech, Bin Hammam also unveiled plans to democratise FIFA and make the governing body - which was hit by a corruption scandal last year during bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups - more transparent.

He pledged to expand FIFA's decision-making process and introduce reforms for a "more fair distribution of revenue and increased transparency", if he won the presidency.

"I think unless one is in the top of the organisation we cannot make changes," he said.

Bin Hammam's announcement came after he repeatedly dropped hints in the past two months that he would stand against Blatter, who said Thursday that he had the energy to carry out what would possibly be his final term as president.

"I just passed on March 10 75 years. But I think I am full of energy and I have not yet finished my work to develop football and organise competition," Blatter said during a visit to Malaysia.

"I am willing to go on for the next four years. This is my wish and we will see what the congress will say."

Hoping to win a fourth term as FIFA president, Blatter completed a whirlwind tour of Asia including East Timor, Myanmar, Laos and Malaysia to gauge support from Bin Hammam's affiliates Thursday.

Bin Hammam was once a close ally of Blatter's 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.


  • FerretGee - 2011-03-18 08:16

    All international sporting bodies, ie FIFA, International Olympic Commitee (IOC), International Rugby Board (IRB) Internationa Cricket Council (ICC) etc should all have a a caluse in their constitutions that the head/president/chairman or whichever name they choose to use, can only be in office for a maximum of four years, thereafter a new leader must be elected. The outgoing head can be on the committee as a non-voting member to assist with continuity if required. The problem with ANY committee is that they become "the system" and become resistant to change. Sepp Blatter runs FIFA with an iron fist and his word is law. It is never good for a sport when the heirarchy rule with an iron fist. New blood at the top is always a good thing!

      Keith - 2011-03-18 08:22

      Nice idea but would you take on a 4 year job - and then be looking for work? Even worse in non paid posts where volunteers are kicked out after good service to the sports they love.

      FerretGee - 2011-03-18 08:35

      I hear you Keith, but then again, many people do take on fixed term contracts, all the professional players have to. I agree on the non-paid posts and how those people get discarded, I've been on enough sports committees to know how thankless it can be and how, quite often, the good ones get lost to the system.

      Innocent - 2011-03-18 13:22

      Change is good but!!!!!

      king-paul - 2011-03-18 14:49

      changing a president every after four years sound like a good idea however given the nature of work these guys do, it might distablise how they deliver in improving football. we have to take into consideration that everything about sports is a process therefore time is always needed.

      FerretGee - 2011-03-18 16:15

      @king-paul, I'll compromise and make it 6 years, on the proviso that they groom someone to take over. Problem with all these positions, is the power that comes with it, and we all know how power corrupts... :)

  • kahuru1 - 2011-03-19 00:41

    All Blatter needs to do is secure the African votes (he has been a long time ally) and that will be all she wrote.

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