News / Asia

Bin Hammam Era Ends, Blatter, AFC Move on

New Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa speaks during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 2, 2013.
New Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa speaks during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, May 2, 2013.
Reuters
— Asian soccer finally got rid of tainted former leader Mohamed Bin Hammam on Thursday, voting in the Qatari's sworn enemy Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain as president in a move that strengthened the hand of  FIFA head Sepp Blatter.
    
Controversial Sheikh Salman made a mockery of predictions that it would be a tight race by sweeping to a landslide victory against Worawi Makudi of Thailand and Yousuf Al Serkal of the United Arab Emirates, both Bin Hammam allies.
    
The victory allowed the AFC to finally move on, the door now firmly closed on the sorry Bin Hammam episode which started almost two years ago when the Qatari attempted to oust Blatter from the role of FIFA president.
    
Former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohamed Bin Hammam speaks during a news conference at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mar. 18, 2011.Former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohamed Bin Hammam speaks during a news conference at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mar. 18, 2011.
x
Former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohamed Bin Hammam speaks during a news conference at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mar. 18, 2011.
Former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohamed Bin Hammam speaks during a news conference at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Mar. 18, 2011.
Bin Hammam withdrew from the election in Zurich in 2011 and was banned for life by FIFA for bribery and vote buying. The Qatari contested the charge in a lengthy battle and two years of uncertainty started as the AFC struggled without the authoritative voice of their powerful and well respected leader.
    
China's Zhang Jilong assumed the acting presidency but only really pointed out the never-ending issues that confronted the organization rather than tackling them.
    
Match-fixing scandals in China, Lebanon, Malaysia, South Korea, allegations of player age cheating in Southeast Asia, corruption by members, violence towards  officials, player deaths in Indonesia, the problems kept on coming as the AFC was left waiting  for the green light to elect a new leader.
    
Eventually that day came in March.
    
Historic day
    
With the hefty support of the Olympic Council of Asia - which helped another Blatter ally, Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, grab a FIFA exco seat in 2011 - few  were predicting anything but a Sheikh Salman win prior to the vote.
    
Nevertheless, the threat of Bin Hammam still lingered and caused concern.
    
FIFA wrote to the Qatari Football Association just two days before the vote warning it to stay clear of the former official after the Kuwait FA, which has links to the OCA, voiced concerns he was attempting to interfere.
   
But with both his old pals Worawi and Al Serkal falling way short in the election and another, FIFA executive committee member Vernon Manilal Fernando, being  banned for eight years for unethical behavior this week - Bin Hammam's influence in the AFC  appears over at last.
    
The Qatari responded to Sheikh Salman's victory by publishing a cryptic Tweet in Arabic, using a phrase that is usually reserved for offering condolences.
    
FIFA President Sepp Blatter makes a speech during the "Sports, Business and Ethics - a Situation Analysis" congress in Zurich, Switzerland, Apr. 5, 2013.FIFA President Sepp Blatter makes a speech during the "Sports, Business and Ethics - a Situation Analysis" congress in Zurich, Switzerland, Apr. 5, 2013.
x
FIFA President Sepp Blatter makes a speech during the "Sports, Business and Ethics - a Situation Analysis" congress in Zurich, Switzerland, Apr. 5, 2013.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter makes a speech during the "Sports, Business and Ethics - a Situation Analysis" congress in Zurich, Switzerland, Apr. 5, 2013.
Blatter was cooing even before the vote.

“It is a historical day because it is a day of election, a day of election in your confederation that has been in a difficult situation during the past two years,'' the Swiss told AFC members.
    
“Together you have overcome all these difficulties and now you are in this situation where you are going to have a restart.
    
''But I would identify this restart as an intermediary restart because then the right start will be in two years in 2015 ... you have two more years to put  your house in order.”
    
Blatter will be happy it is his man, Sheikh Salman, who gets to put that house in order and not an ally of his old friend turned foe Bin Hammam.
    
While Blatter, 77, has previously said he did not plan to stand again for the FIFA presidency he opened a loophole in March by saying that he would step down providing there was a candidate to carry on his legacy.
    
From Blatter's perspective, it is always handy to have a president who holds sway over 47 votes in case you do choose to stand again.
    
Sheikh Salman now has two years to try to push through his reform, transparency and integrity manifesto pledges rather than the usual four, another fall-out of the Bin Hammam reign.
    
The shorter term on offer is a result of Bin Hammam's being replaced halfway through what was the Qatari's third four-year term.
    
The Bahraini said lessons will be learned.
    
''We all know in the last two years the issues the AFC has faced and it is our duty to look at them, and what is the proper way to solve them,” Sheikh Salman  told reporters.
    
''We should look at details of the AFC's past and try and correct them for the future because we are here to work for the future and not just talk about the  past.”

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid