'Fresh blood' Hammam on brink

Qatari Asian football chief set to 'clarify position' over whether he will challenge Sepp Blatter for FIFA presidency.

    Bin Hammam, left, has been critical of Blatter, right, having once been seen as an ally of the Swiss [EPA]

    Asian Football Confederation (AFC) chief Mohamed Bin Hammam will on Friday "clarify his position" over mounting speculation he will stand against the FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, in elections this summer.

    The 61-year-old Qatari will address the issue at the AFC's headquarters in Kuala Lumpur at the end of the week, the organisation said on Monday.

    Bin Hammam has dropped several hints over the past three months that he might challenge Blatter for football's top job at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 31 and June 1, telling Al Jazeera in January that "fresh blood" was needed.

    "Maybe we've reached the stage that our president, who is supposed to defend our organisation, is defenceless"

    Mohamed Bin Hammam, AFC president

    The deadline for declaring an intention to run is March 31.

    Last week Bin Hammam, who was sworn in unopposed for a third and final term as the head of the Asian game in January, said he was happy with the support from five of FIFA's six confederations but was unsure about European support.

    "I am happy with most confederations, but I don't know about Europe and how they will deal with my candidacy," he said in on his Twitter account.

    "Europe is the core of football. I would like now to make a real assessment in Europe."

    Blatter, 75, currently has no competition as he seeks a fourth term. He has been in the job since 1998.
    The pair endure a frosty relationship, having once being considered strong allies, with Bin Hammam being critical of the Swiss president's management.

    In an interview with Al Jazeera in January, the Qatari said it was time to "inject fresh blood" in Fifa and criticised Blatter's handling of speculation that the Qatar 2022 World Cup could be held in winter.

    "Maybe now we got tired of always defending same opinions, same ideas, same things, so maybe we've reached the stage that our president, who is supposed to defend our organisation, is defenceless - he cannot anymore do it," he said.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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