FIFA overrules bans on five Asian countries

BANGKOK - Football's world governing body has overruled a decision by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to suspend five countries, allowing them to vote in an upcoming election which could decide who runs the Asian game.

"Since we could not find a legal base within the AFC statutes, we believe that the (AFC legal ad hoc) committee has no power to pass any binding decisions," FIFA's legal director Marco Villiger said in correspondence seen by Reuters.

Laos, East Timor, Afghanistan and Mongolia were told by the AFC they could not vote because they had not participated in at least three AFC competitions in the last two years.

Kuwait were initially denied because the AFC ruled it would not recognise its federation's temporary administration.

Critics of AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam say he sought the suspensions because the five countries refused to support his re-election campaign for a FIFA executive committee seat.

The Qatari goes up against Bahraini Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa in the May 8 polls.

Bin Hammam has vowed to step down as AFC boss if defeated, but Al-Khalifa insists he does not want his job.


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