Saturday, April 16, 2011

Qatar’s Bin Hammam poised to address corruption within FIFA

Bin Hammam (Getty Images)
The President of the Asian Football Federation (AFC), Mr. Mohammed Bin Hammam, has said he is poised to deal with the issue of corruption within FIFA, once he is elected as president.
Corruption has been perceived to be a major issue within the ranks of the world football governing body, especially after high profile allegations of exchanging votes for money by some FIFA Executives during the 2018 and 2022 World Cup Bidding in Zurich late last year.

However, Bin Hammam, who is also a member of the FIFA executive committee, said on his blog that he will write to the current FIFA President (Sepp Blatter) to congratulate him for putting his name forward for a fourth term. 
“I will let him know that I see this election as an opportunity for us to prove that FIFA is not corrupt and that the organisation is open and democratic. I will tell him that throughout this campaign we should respect FIFA's Statutes and protect FIFA's integrity by ensuring that there will be no outside interference in the attempt to win votes; the influence of third parties should not be tolerated or accepted,” he said.

He also said he is sure that Mr. Blatter will do his utmost to implement, in this campaign, FIFA's principles pertaining to the elections in Member Associations as enshrined in Articles 17.1 and 17.2 of the FIFA Statutes.

Bin Hammam has already proposed to increase the number of vote-casting seats from the current 13 to 41, as well as form a transparency committee made up of members vetted through open and stringent mechanisms.
Competition for the top seat in FIFA has been very low over the years, but the Qatari believes that competition is vital for any organization. “It brings with it a desire to improve and it encourages people to move forward,” he said.

He acknowledges that the deadline for the submission of candidacies for the FIFA Presidential election has passed, saying that “we now know it will be a two-way competition between Mr. Sepp Blatter and myself in the vote in Zurich on June 1, 2011”. 

He noted that he is looking forward to the campaign and having the opportunity to discuss his manifesto with the members of the “global Football Family” over the coming two months.
In this regard, Mr. Hammam has already begun his campaign for votes; he was in Banjul, The Gambia to seek for votes during the West African Football Union (WAFU) General Assembly on April 9, 2011.
The 61 year old Bin Hammam has been on FIFA’s executive committee for 15 years, and is the Chairman of the organization’s Goal Bureau, which supports its member associations across the world.
Mr. Hammam took over as President of the AFC in 2002. 

“I am a great believer in democracy and we need to create an environment where individuals are not reluctant to stand up for what they believe in. In the past, very few people stood for office within the AFC; nobody came forward to stand for election. In recent times it has been the same in FIFA with very little change unless there has been a vacancy created,” he said.

“After I took over at AFC, I learned to encourage people to stand for election; I learned to welcome it and it is something that can only strengthen an organisation. Democracy has to be embraced by both parties in this election, by the challenger and by the party currently holding the post and I believe Mr. Blatter should be proud that there is someone who is willing to compete with him for this role.” 

This, he said, is because in the end FIFA and football in general will be the real winner.

“I am glad to say that the AFC executive committee encouraged me and supported me in my candidacy and I am inviting member associations, football communities, media to be part of my humble endeavour to make the change that is necessary and needed in FIFA,” he said at a press conference in Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, recently.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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