|Bin Hammam hit the campaign trail at the UEFA Congress, knowing the European vote is key for his campaign [AFP]|
FIFA challenger Mohamed bin Hammam has indicated his willingness to strike a deal with UEFA boss Michel Platini in order to boost his chances of replacing Sepp Blatter as head of world football’s governing body.
Bin Hammam, the Asian Football Confederation President, and Sepp Blatter both hit the campaign trail yesterday as they began canvassing votes among European football federations ahead of the election.
Bin Hammam needs backing from Europe’s federations to bring an end to Blatter’s 13-year reign and the Qatari hinted that agreeing to serve just a single four-year term could help Platini’s own ambitions to be FIFA president in 2015.
FIFA’s 208 member associations have a vote each in the presidential election which will be held in Zurich on June 1 and with 53 members, more than other confederation, UEFA is one of the key regions.
“I am not going to lie to you and say that I am not going to talk to Michel about possible cooperation in the future, this has to be put frankly,” bin Hammam said.
“I’m not telling you I am not going to do it, but let’s wait and see.”
Bin Hammam was speaking in France ahead of the UEFA Congress. Also present was American journalist Grant Wahl, who hopes to stand as a protest candidate.
Wahl was attempting to find one association to provide written backing for his vote before the April 1 registration deadline.
The American said he been in contact with more than 150 associations.
Bin Hammam has promised greater transparency, sharing FIFA’s centralised decision-making power with its six confederations and doubling annual grants for its 208 national members to $500,000.
He assured FIFA of its first election contest for nine years, after Blatter was re-elected unopposed in 2007.
Bin Hammam said he did not regret campaigning for Blatter’s two election victories but “now things are different” for the 75-year-old Swiss official, who joined FIFA 36 years ago.
“Mr Blatter came wanting eight years, two mandates, then 12 years and three mandates, and now four mandates and actually nothing is changing in the last three or four years,” Bin Hammam said.
“I am someone who has been contributing to football through my presidency of the Asian confederation, my love for football and my membership of the FIFA executive committee and I don’t see anything is moving, anything is changing.
Support from North, Central America and the Caribbean is also thought crucial to victory.
Bin Hammam said he will visit CONCACAF president Jack Warner and its executive committee next month to open talks over its 37-vote bloc.
He acknowledged facing opposition in some parts of the Asian confederation, which he has led for nine years and represented on the FIFA executive committee since 1996.
“I don’t have the support of everyone in Asia yet, but have to work for it.”
Mohamed bin Hammam
“I don’t have the support of everyone in Asia yet, but have to work for it,” said bin Hammam, revealing that the federations of Yemen, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand nominated him to take on Blatter.
A wealthy businessman with construction and other interests in Qatar, bin Hammam said he would fund his own campaign expenses.
Bin Hammam then outlined “my vision and my goal” to rehabilitate FIFA’s reputation, after allegations of corruption on Blatter’s watch including during the bidding contest for the 2022 World Cup won by Qatar.
“I think Qatar played the game according to the rules and the regulations,” bin Hammam said.
“I never saw FIFA as a corrupt organisation but maybe the lack of transparency, this is what people are attacking us for.
“At the end of the day we are an organisation that belongs to the public, it doesn’t belong to us. We have to make ourselves very clear to people.”
Sepp Blatter says he will stand down in 2015 if he is re-elected in June.
“You know I aspire to another four years. These will be the last four years for which I stand as candidate,” he said in a speech to the UEFA Congress on Tuesday.
Michel Platini will be re-elected for another four-year term as UEFA president as he is the only candidate in Tuesday’s election.