‘This is only the battle, not the war’

Banned former Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam posts Blatter letter on website as stand-in vows to clean up game.

Bin Hammam, left, chats with Blatter at the AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur in 2009 [EPA]

Mohamed Bin Hammam has suggested that his appeal over a life ban from football could turn into “a war” after posting an old letter from FIFA president Sepp Blatter on his website.

It comes on the day that the acting president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) – the post held by Bin Hammam before his suspension and ban – promised to tackle corruption and restore transparency.

FIFA found Bin Hammam guilty of bribery and banned him for life on Saturday, making him the most senior official convicted of corruption in the governing body’s 107-year history.
He denies the charges and plans to appeal, while Zhang Jilong said he would press ahead with restoring the game’s credibility in Asia.

On Sunday, the 62-year-old Bin Hammam posted a letter dated June 2008, in which FIFA boss Sepp Blatter thanks the Qatari for his support during his first 10 years in office.

Bin Hammam highlights the line “without you, dear Mohamed, none of this would ever have been possible.” 

The former AFC chief signs off Sunday’s blog with the words, “This is only the battle, not the war…”.
Bin Hammam didn’t attend Saturday’s hearing by the sport’s ethics committee in Zurich, which concluded he did try to buy votes ahead of last month’s election.
“The AFC respects…FIFA’s decision and we also acknowledge former AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam’s inalienable right to lodge an appeal,” Zhang said in a statement.

Betting scandals

However, he insisted the AFC would clamp down on the betting and corruption scandals tarnishing the game across the region.
“This is a difficult period for us because Asian football is currently facing multiple challenges, the biggest of which is match-fixing,” he said.

“I, in my capacity as the acting AFC President, am aware of the urgent need to provide a strong leadership that will work closely with the Member Associations towards creating a climate of trust and confidence,” he added, setting out his manifesto.

“During my provisional presidency, I promise that the AFC will govern the continent’s football affairs in complete transparency, fairness and harmony.

“The best of Asian football is yet to come and AFC will work tirelessly towards ensuring that the collective interests of the great sport we love will prevail in our continent.”

Bin Hammam, who has been on FIFA’s executive committee since 1996, was found guilty of attempting to buy the votes of Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials ahead of the FIFA presidential election on June 1.

The AFC chief since 2002, Bin Hammam, pulled out of the race at the end of May and was suspended by FIFA, leaving Blatter to be re-elected unopposed for a fourth term.

Former Asian Football Confederation general secretary Peter Velappan welcomed the life ban handed to Bin Hammam.

“Justice is done and it’s good for FIFA and good for football,” Velappan, a long-time critic of bin Hammam, told the Associated Press news agency from Malaysia.

“I hope FIFA will continue this relentless effort to also bring the other rogues in the FIFA executive committee to account.”

Velappan, who served as AFC general secretary from 1978-2007, wants to see a review of the voting procedures that saw the 2022 World Cup awarded to

“All this comes as a package – the presidential election and the World Cup,” he said.

The Qatar bid has denied any wrong-doing, amid corruption claims made by a former employee that were retracted this month.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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