Tue, Mar 17, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Moves to get rid of AFC ‘dictator’ gain momentum


Moves to oust embattled Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammed bin Hammam are gaining momentum, with his key challenger insisting support for his “autocratic” rule is rapidly waning.

Bahrain’s Shaikh Salman Ebrahim al-Khalifa will pit himself against Bin Hammam for his FIFA executive committee seat on May 8 after several recent moves by the Qatari upset powerful factions of the regional soccer body.

“I know president Bin Hammam very well. We all supported him in the beginning, but I think that vote of trust we gave him, I am very sorry to say, we have created a dictator,” Shaikh Salman said in comments e-mailed to AFP. “He is not for all, but for himself. We think there is a line that has been drawn and this line has been crossed. His autocratic decisions have divided Asian football.”

Asia has four seats on the FIFA executive committee — South Korea’s Chung Mong-joon as vice president, Japan’s Junji Ogura from East Asia, Thailand’s Worawi Makudi from Southeast Asia, and Bin Hammam.

The Qatari’s is the only position up for election.

While Bin Hammam’s presidency of the AFC does not expire until 2011, he has indicated that if he loses his long-held FIFA seat then he will also quit as AFC chief.

Several key Bin Hammam proposals have proved controversial. They include his plan to move the AFC headquarters out of Malaysia, a proposed 12-year marketing deal with World Sport Group and amendments to the AFC statutes that would consolidate his power.

While the challenge is coming from Bahrain, it is crucially supported by other heavyweight members including Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

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