Japan calls for AFC elections amid crisis

TOKYO - The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) must hold presidential elections after former chief Mohamed Bin Hammam was banned for life by FIFA, Japan's football chief said on Tuesday.

Japan Football Association (JFA) president Junji Ogura believes an immediate vote is essential after Bin Hammam was provisionally suspended by the AFC.

"[Bin Hammam] has been banned for life so there is a need for elections to be held," Ogura told local media on Tuesday.

The election would also include a seat on FIFA's Executive Committee, occupied by Bin Hammam since 1996 before the Qatari was banned over a bribery allegations.

Bin Hammam has protested his innocence and vowed to fight to clear his name.

China's Zhang Jilong has been the caretaker AFC president since the scandal broke and has promised to tackle corruption in a clear sign he wants the job full-time.

The AFC is scheduled to meet on Friday to discuss the leadership crisis.

Japan lost their seat on FIFA's Executive Committee in January when Kozo Tashima lost out in a ballot but he could be a candidate for AFC presidency and another crack at a seat at FIFA's top table.

Ogura told Japanese media Bin Hammam had written to him calling for his understanding and patience.

"He said he doesn't think he has done anything wrong and that he has no intention of quitting as either AFC President or FIFA executive," said Ogura.

The 62-year-old Bin Hammam, AFC chief since 2002, was found guilty last Saturday of attempting to buy votes in the run-up to last month's FIFA presidential election.

His guilty verdict could have ramifications for Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 World Cup.

The tiny Gulf emirate won the right to 2022 last December but have been forced to deny allegations of corruption connected with their shock win.