BANGKOK - Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed Bin Hammam has vowed to step down if he fails to retain his seat on the FIFA executive committee in elections this May.
The Qatari, who has held the West Asia FIFA seat since 1996, will go up against Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa of Bahrain in what is being interpreted as a hostile challenge to Bin Hammam's six-year reign as Asia soccer chief.
"Some people have launched a campaign against me, maybe they don't like me, a man from the desert being at the helm," Bin Hammam said in an interview in Arabic with Qatari television station Al Kass.
"If I don't retain my FIFA executive membership from the region on May 8, I will quit my position as president."
The AFC confirmed the comments had been made when contacted by Reuters on Monday.
Asia has four seats on the FIFA executive committee, one for a FIFA vice-president plus one each for East Asia, West Asia and Southeast Asia.
Bin Hammam on February 3 proposed an amendment to Asian statutes which would grant an automatic spot on the FIFA executive committee to the AFC president.
That seat would come at the expense of South Korean soccer chief Chung Mong-joon, who currently holds the position of FIFA vice-president.
Bin Hammam said he suspected his rivals in the region had hatched a plot to engineer his demise.
"Shaikh Salman is not doing this on his own, he is doing this at the instruction of others, especially people in the (South) Korean federation," he said.
In a statement issued on Monday, Bin Hammam sought to qualify a quote attributed to him, that he was ready to "cut off the head" of a top South Korean official known to be a major backer of his Bahraini opponent.
"It is a popular, harmless and widely used Arabic metaphor," Bin Hammam said. "It means to halt someone's plans or nip in the bud someone's progress."
In a recent interview with Reuters, Al Khalifa insisted his candidacy was a bid to achieve his personal ambition and not a move against Bin Hammam.
The Bahraini soccer federation chairman also said he had no desire to become AFC president.