Football politics

Koreans demand apology from Asian boss

February 17, 2009

South Korea's soccer federation on Tuesday demanded an apology from Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed Bin Hammam for what they interpreted as an insult to one of their top officials.

The Korean Football Association (KFA) said it "strongly denounced" Bin Hammam's comments in Arabic about its president Cho Chung-yun, which they said translated as a threat to cut off his head.

Bin Hammam said the comment was a metaphor that had been poorly translated.

"He must offer an open apology for his remarks," KFA spokesman Yoo Young-cheol was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

"The KFA strongly denounces (him) for making unutterable and improper remarks (against South Korean officials) in media interviews," he said, adding that the KFA would draft a petition against the president if he failed to retract the comment.

Bin Hammam has accused South Koreans of initiating and bankrolling a campaign led by Bahraini Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim al Khalifa to win the West Asia seat on the FIFA executive committee, which the Qatari has held unopposed since 1996.

He made the contentious comment in an interview at the weekend on Qatari television and issued a statement on Monday saying his comment had been misinterpreted.

"We all know the first thing to be lost in translation is humour," Bin Hammam said.

"It is a popular, harmless and widely used Arabic metaphor. It means to halt someone's plans or nip in the bud someone's progress.

"It is like the English saying 'heads will roll'. That doesn't literally mean someone's head is going to roll off, does it?"

Bin Hammam said he would resign as AFC president if he lost his seat on the FIFA executive board in May's election.