Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohamed Bin Hammam has confirmed that he will contest FIFA chief Sepp Blatter’s campaign for a fourth consecutive term as the president of world soccer’s governing body. Bin Hammam’s challenge will be the first that Blatter has faced for his presidency in nearly a decade after the Qatari confirmed that he would stand against the Swiss incumbent in the June 1 elections.
Bin Hammam’s announcement draws a close to months of speculation after stating at a press conference at the AFC’s Kuala Lumpur headquarters that he would seek to end Blatter’s 13-year reign. Blatter has not been challenged since 2002, when he defeated Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou by 139 votes to 56.
The challenger stated: “Today after careful study, consultation and consideration, armed with my love and passion for football, believing that our game is about fair competition, I have decided to contest.”
The head of the AFC has been outspoken in his criticism of FIFA’s practices since his country secured the hosting rights to the 2022 World Cup in early December and despite acknowledging Blatter’s contributions, Bin Hammam added that it was time for “new faces, new blood”.
He continued: “There is a time limit for everyone. I hope that Asia is going to be united behind me, but also the other confederations where I enjoy a lot of friendship and relationships, I hope also those people are going to support me.”
Bin Hammam proposed that the 24-man FIFA executive committee, which was hit by scandal in the build-up to the December 2 vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments, should be replaced by a 41-member board. He also said he would hope to set up a new transparency committee and spread FIFA’s income more evenly across the globe.
Blatter told reporters on Thursday: “I still feel full of energy and I’ve not yet finished my work in FIFA. I’m now in the 13th year of my presidency, and the 36th year working within FIFA, so I’m available to the congress. If there is competition there is competition. I have support from different Asian associations, but I must have the support of the whole FIFA family.” [Source: I Sport Connect].
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