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Saturday, January 29, 2011
Bin Hammam urges FIFA to change

Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed Bin Hammam believes FIFA is in desperate need of a complete overhaul to regain football's trust - but refused to be drawn on whether he was the man to do it.

Football's governing body endured a torrid 2010 that saw two executive committee members suspended in relation to allegations of corruption over World Cup hosting rights, while four other officials were also sanctioned. The decision to give Qatar the 2022 World Cup also drew fierce criticism while the issue of goal-line technology continues to dog president Sepp Blatter.

Bin Hammam is seen by many as a potential challenger to Blatter's position in May's elections and in a thinly-veiled reference to his Swiss rival, the 61-year-old Qatari again called for FIFA to impose a limit on its presidential terms for the benefit of the game and to prevent people retaining their position for personal gain. Blatter is looking to extend his 12-year reign this summer.

"I believe that is the right way for FIFA as an organisation to restructure itself,'' said Bin Hammam, who will stand down as AFC president in 2015. "I don't want to answer any questions regarding the FIFA election but now you are asking me in a different way.

"People today, maybe I'm wrong in my approach, are complaining a lot about how FIFA runs its business. Not only the term limits need to be changed or to be inserted into FIFA statutes but there are a lot of changes that need to be added to the FIFA practices and office businesses.

"The term limit will facilitate the rotation of power within the organisation. Limiting the mandate for the president will allow new people to come into power without hesitation and new people means new ideas, new thoughts and pushing the organisation ahead.

"I'm afraid that with the time we are staying in our position, our main aim in the future is how to protect myself sitting in this seat, not what I want to do for the future.

"Eight years I have worked in the AFC and the AFC is the largest organisation in the world in terms of population and our football wasn't that shining and promoted (when Hammam took over). I did a lot and I've had enough so now there is somebody else who can take over and bring the AFC new ideas.

"Frankly speaking, if I'm going to think to stay longer, I'm going to think how I protect my position, how I'm going to protect my seat and that's not the reason why I'm president.''

Hammam was speaking ahead of Saturday's Asian Cup final between Australia and Japan as the month-long tournament draws to a close. And he believes Qatar's successful staging of Asia's premier tournament confirms the Gulf country is well-equipped to host the World Cup in 11 years' time.

"As far as I'm concerned, I always believed that Qatar could present an amazing World Cup. For me, it's been an opportunity for those who had less confidence in Qatar's ability to organise a World Cup to witness for themselves what can and cannot be done,'' he said.

"We promoted a compact World Cup in a small country. We told the people of the world 'please come and feel how comfortable the World Cup will be organised in a small country'.

"We organised two matches a day and you have seen how comfortable that is in the same city, in the same hotel, driving the same car very short distances. I hope that the media are convinced with the size of Qatar, how much the Qatari people love the sport, how proud we are of our football infrastructure, how much we can keep our promises that we have presented in our bid.''

Hammam also discounted the possibility of matches being staged in neighbouring Gulf countries.

"Qatar submitted a bid to organise the World Cup, just for Qatar to organise all the matches. It's never been discussed that some of the matches are going to be played outside. So from that point of view, I don't think any country is going to have part of this competition,'' he said.

"If you ask me what is the impact of organising the World Cup in this region, I think that is very huge. The region will benefit from tourists, economically, I think a lot of infrastructure is to be built, a lot of people are going to come to work for constructing the infrastructure.

"Football is going to be promoted hugely, the legacy the World Cup is going to leave I don't have time to mention it all.'

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