The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammed Bin Hammam expects to survive a hostile challenge for his Fifa executive committee seat in the upcoming elections. The Qatari, who will quit his role at the top of the AFC if he is unseated, said he had raised the level of the game across the continent and would retain his place on world football's top panel of officials after May's polls.
"The [Fifa] position is seen as a vote of confidence on my part and my personality," he said. "If I lose the Fifa seat it means that the majority of [Asian] associations are not happy with my performance. I do believe, though, that I have represented Asia well at international level in the best way I could." Bin Hammam has not faced a challenge for his place on the Fifa committee since winning the West Asian seat in 1996.
His future is now in jeopardy, however, as the Bahraini president Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa is contesting the seat. Bin Hammam sees Al Khalifa's candidacy as a plot to force him from power and has accused the Bahraini of being a stooge for East Asian officials desperate to oust him. "I do have reason to believe something is going on from information I have received," said Bin Hammam, who recently caused outrage by saying he would "cut off the head" of South Korean officials he claimed are colluding to topple him. It was a comment he later said was a misinterpreted Arabic metaphor.
Bin Hammam claims credit for a number of reforms, including grassroots development programmes but his critics say they are tired of his autocratic leadership style, accusing him of mismanaging the federation. "I don't know which part of my administration I have mismanaged," he added. * Reuters