Bin Hammam launches bid to unseat Blatter

KUALA LUMPUR - AFC chief Mohamed Bin Hammam on Friday launched his bid to unseat Sepp Blatter as head of global football with a campaign built on transparency and technology.

The 61-year-old Qatari ended weeks of speculation with confirmation of his move at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

"After careful consideration... I have decided to contest in the FIFA presidential elections on June 1 at the FIFA congress, Bin Hammam told massed reporters.

"My chances, I would say, are 50-50. Sepp Blatter is a very experienced person and has made a significant contribution to the development of the game. The world knows him very well."

Blatter, 75, who is seeking a fourth term as head of FIFA, and Bin Hammam will stand in an election at the two-day FIFA Congress in Zurich starting on May 31.

"Blatter has worked very hard to develop the game, he did his best and he has made a number of changes since he came to the game, but change is always needed," Bin Hammam said.

"There is always a time limit for everything and now is the time for new faces, new blood, new air too. This is my message and I hope the voters are going to address these things."

"TOO BUREAUCRATIC"

Bin Hammam, who was sworn in unopposed for a third and final four-year term as AFC head in January, is hoping to become the ninth president of FIFA and the first from Asia.

Dressed in a sharp dark suit he spoke with poise as he delivered a manifesto which centered on distributing power more evenly across FIFA's 208 members and said he would ask bigger nations to offer more help to the less privileged.

"I will always put into consideration the need and the requirement of every member association to have more technical and financial support to enable them to close the gap between their nations and those of the advanced football nations."

The Qatari promised to double donations to member associations and to increase the size of, and rebrand, the executive committee to ensure more votes for all confederations after criticising much of FIFA's administration.

"The way I see FIFA functioning today, it is too bureaucratic and very much centralised and its efficiency is in doubt in so many areas, especially when it comes to the technical and legal matters," he said, vowing to address this.

The FIFA executive committee would be called the FIFA board and have 41 members, including the president, with UEFA, CAF and AFC enjoying four more seats each, CONCACAF three more, and CONMEBOL and Oceania one more.

PERSONAL BELIEFS

"These are my own beliefs but these things are very much influenced by the view of the public," the Qatari told Reuters in an interview after his announcement.

The move to give more seats to member confederations, especially his own continet of Asia where he does not hold total support, and double donations to member associations are eye-catching proposals which could sway support.

"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 these people are going to support me," Bin Hammam said.

Bin Hammam also made it clear he would support the introduction of goal line technology, something FIFA has so far dragged its feet on, if his bid for the top job was successful and said he would be in favour of introducing two more officials behind the goals.

"I will support the goalline technology and I will support the additional two assistants behind the goals as proposed by UEFA president Michel Platini."

The AFC president, who played an influential role in securing the 2022 World Cup for Qatar, has become synonymous with the phrase "the future is Asia" but was quick to joke with Reuters that that phrase could soon become redundant were he to be successful in this bid.

Come June, the present - as well as the future - could be Asia.


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