Bin Hammam criticises FIFA Interpol donation

Presidential candidate calls for reform saying world football's governing body needs a 'new direction'.

    Head to head: Blatter received the backing of the Oceania Football Confederation on Thursday in a boost to his re-election campaign [EPA]

    Asian Football Confederation president and FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hamman criticised incumbent Sepp Blatter on Thursday for donating $20 million to Interpol to help combat match-fixing, claiming the idea was never approved by FIFA's executive committee.

    Bin Hammam, who is challenging Blatter for the most powerful job in football on June 1 in Zurich, criticised Blatter for spending the governing body's money 'arbitrarily' on an Interpol programme without consulting the executive body.

    Bin Hammam made the comments on his website as the presidential race between the two candidates becomes increasingly bitter.

    "Currently, the President has taken on too much of an Executive role, as evidenced by the recently announced initiative to donate 20 million dollars to Interpol," said Bin Hammam.

    "Imagine FIFA financing Interpol's activities!

    "This decision was taken arbitrarily by the FIFA President and was not discussed with the Executive Committee.

    "It is just another example of the current regime choosing to run football how it sees fit, rather than doing so in a manner that is consistent with the governing body's proper procedures. How on earth can we convince people of FIFA's innocence?"

    Bad press

    It has been a week so far dominated by bad press for FIFA.

    Six FIFA executive committee members were accused of asking for favours in return for their votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids in a British parliamentary hearing on Tuesday by former English Football Association chairman David Triesman.

    Jack Warner, Ricardo Teixeira, Nicolas Leoz and Worawi Makudi were accused of asking for favours in return for their votes for England's 2018 bid.

    British parliamentarians also revealed the names of two other FIFA Executive Committee members, vice-president Issa Hayatou from Cameroon and Jacques Anouma from the Ivory Coast, who, it is alleged, were paid $1.5 million to vote for Qatar's successful 2022 World Cup bid.

    Sepp Blatter, who spoke exclusively to Al Jazeera yesterday, said he would act before the election to investigate allegations levelled at FIFA.

    He denied his organisation was in crisis, saying that he was taking a "zero tolerance" approach to corruption.

    He also demanded that the English FA provide immediate evidence of claims made by Triesman, the chairman of England's failed 2018 bid, at the hearing.

    In defence

    Bin Hammam however defended the integrity of FIFA in his comments on Thursday, saying despite FIFA's name being "dragged through the mud once more" he did not believe the organisation was corrupt.

    "It has become clear yet again in recent days that something urgently needs to be done to improve and enhance the image of FIFA; the name of our great sport and its leading institution have been dragged through the mud once more," he said.

    "I will happily and unreservedly restate that I firmly believe FIFA, as a decision-making body and as an organisation, is not corrupt."

    Mohamed Bin Hammam

    "I will happily and unreservedly restate that I firmly believe FIFA, as a decision-making body and as an organisation, is not corrupt.

    "Football is a force for good and FIFA is at the vanguard of making positive changes across the world.

    "However, under the current status quo it is impossible to deny that the governing body's reputation has been sullied beyond compare and it is time for that to change.

    "A new atmosphere needs to descend upon FIFA; there needs to be an opportunity for new ideas to take hold and for the organisation to take a new direction."

    Bin Hammam in a previous exclusive interview with Al Jazeera has called for "fresh blood" at the world governing body, saying that Blatter was no longer able to defend the organisation.

    Oceania backing

    In better news for Blatter the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) gave Blatter another boost in his campaign to be re-elected on Thursday.

    "OFC has confirmed its support for the re-election of FIFA President Joseph Blatter citing a range of initiatives that have positively impacted the region under his leadership," the OFC said in a statement.

    "OFC President David Chung says all members agreed that the current FIFA administration has had a significant impact on the development and popularity of football across the Pacific.

    "While all Member Associations have an independent right to decide on which candidate to vote for, President Chung says today's decision highlights the unity and transparency within the Confederation."

    South America's CONMEBOL and Europe's UEFA have already declared their support for Blatter, who is hoping to secure a fourth term with a victory over his Qatari opponent in the June 1 election.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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