BANGKOK - Asian Football Confederation
(AFC) president Mohamed Bin Hammam has vowed to step down if he
fails to retain his seat on the FIFA executive committee in
elections this May.
The Qatari, who has held the West Asia FIFA seat since
1996, will go up against Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa
of Bahrain in what is being interpreted as a hostile challenge
to Bin Hammam's six-year reign as Asia soccer chief.
"Some people have launched a campaign against me, maybe
they don't like me, a man from the desert being at the helm,"
Bin Hammam said in an interview in Arabic with Qatari
television station Al Kass.
"If I don't retain my FIFA executive membership from the
region on May 8, I will quit my position as president."
The AFC confirmed the comments had been made when contacted
by Reuters on Monday.
Asia has four seats on the FIFA executive committee, one
for a FIFA vice-president plus one each for East Asia, West
Asia and Southeast Asia.
Bin Hammam on February 3 proposed an amendment to Asian
statutes which would grant an automatic spot on the FIFA
executive committee to the AFC president.
That seat would come at the expense of South Korean soccer
chief Chung Mong-joon, who currently holds the position of FIFA
Bin Hammam said he suspected his rivals in the region had
hatched a plot to engineer his demise.
"Shaikh Salman is not doing this on his own, he is doing
this at the instruction of others, especially people in the
(South) Korean federation," he said.
In a statement issued on Monday, Bin Hammam sought to
qualify a quote attributed to him, that he was ready to "cut
off the head" of a top South Korean official known to be a
major backer of his Bahraini opponent.
"It is a popular, harmless and widely used Arabic
metaphor," Bin Hammam said. "It means to halt someone's plans
or nip in the bud someone's progress."
In a recent interview with Reuters, Al Khalifa insisted his
candidacy was a bid to achieve his personal ambition and not a
move against Bin Hammam.
The Bahraini soccer federation chairman also said he had no
desire to become AFC president.
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