FIFA chief brands Hammam mentally ill

KUALA LUMPUR- One of world football's kingpins has launched a humiliating attack on Asia's football chief Mohamed bin Hammam, urging him to seek psychiatric help as the struggle for power in Asian football intensified. "I am afraid that Mr. Hammam may be a sick person who needs to be at a hospital rather than at (world football's governing body) FIFA," South Korean tycoon Chung Mong-joon told gobsmacked journalists on Thursday.

Chung, a FIFA vice-president and South Korean lawmaker, continued to heap personal insult on the Qatari, adding that he was "acting like a head of a crime organisation" and that Asian football now suffered from a serious lack of transparency, democracy and rule of law.

"It looks like Mr. Hammam is suffering from mental problems. I want to advise him to consider going to hospital.

"In the beginning he was not like he is today. Mr. Hammam should have tried to be the type of leader who works hard to unite rather than divide and rule.

A spokesman for Qatari bin Hammam would not comment on Chung's tirade.

Chung launched the personal attack on the eve of a power vote to select a West Asia representative to sit on the executive committee of FIFA.

Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa is challenging incumbent bin Hammam for the seat.


Bin Hammam, who has held the FIFA seat unopposed since 1996, has vowed to also step down as AFC president if defeated.

Chung, one of eight FIFA vice-presidents, said Friday's vote was taking place at the "most crucial stage in the history of Asian football".

"I am here with a broken heart," he told journalists packed into a hotel meeting room in the Malaysian capital.

"Any given confederation can prosper only when its members are united in mutual trust and solidarity.

"Unfortunately, the Asian football family is now deeply divided and full of distrust and hatred.

"Someone should be held accountable for this ... this situation is unthinkable and unhealthy."

The two campaigns have been riddled with allegations of power abuse, intimidation and vote-buying, with bin Hammam's opponents in East Asia, Southeast Asia and the Gulf weighing-in with scathing criticism of his rule.

Bin Hammam believes Sheikh Salman's challenge is part of a vendetta and has pulled no punches in chiding the rivals he claims had plotted to use the Bahraini to oust him.

Bin Hammam had previously appeared on television using a metaphor alluding to cutting off Chung's limbs and his head which angered the Korean, but he later clarified his position and said his comments had been misinterpreted.

The AFC's congress will vote on the FIFA seat on Friday.