Bin Hammam to run against Blatter for Fifa president
Bin Hammam to stand against Blatter
Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam has announced he will stand against Sepp Blatter in the Fifa presidential election in June.
In a 17-minute speech announcing his candidacy, Bin Hammam vowed to increase the world governing body's decision-making power and spread its wealth.
"Change is necessary and needed," said Bin Hammam, whose campaign will be built on transparency and technology.
Blatter is seeking re-election for a fourth four-year term as president.
Bin Hammam said he rated his chances of becoming the ninth president of Fifa and the first from Asia as "50-50".
"After careful study, consultation and consideration, armed with my love and passion for football, believing that our game is about fair competition, I have decided to stand in the Fifa presidential elections on 1 June at the Fifa congress," he said. "The AFC executive committee have encouraged me.
He [Bin Hammam] is a serious challenger and he will hope to capitalise on the criticism Fifa and Blatter, in particular, have faced in recent months.
BBC sports editor David Bond
"I have the wish and will to serve Fifa - I have always declared that competition is good.
"I hope that Asia is going to be united behind me, but also the other confederations where I enjoy a lot of friendship and relationships, I hope also those people are going to support me.
"Blatter is an experienced person, he has made significant contribution to football worldwide but I believe there is a time limit for everything."
The Qatari said much of Fifa's administration was too bureaucratic and promised to decentralise it if voted in, adding that he would also expand the executive committee to give more people a greater say in decision making.
He stated that the Fifa president should be chairman of a 41-member board, instead of 24, putting forward a plan that would dilute the power of Europe and South America - football's traditional powers - while boosting the representation from elsewhere.
The 61-year-old questioned Fifa's efficiency in technical and legal areas and said he hoped to set up a new transparency committee.
However, former German international Franz Beckenbauer, who is stepping down as a Fifa Executive Committee member in the coming days, fears Bin Hammam's challenge could split the governing body in two.
[Bin Hammam] is a serious challenger and he will hope to capitalise on the criticism Fifa and Blatter, in particular, have faced in recent months
BBC sports editor David Bond
"I think this is a dangerous situation because it could split Fifa into two camps," the veteran told reporters. "One of Fifa's strengths has been its unity. It would be sad if that split were to happen.
"[Either way] I think it will be difficult for Bin Hammam. Blatter knows Fifa inside out and he has done a very good job until now."
Fellow Fifa executive committee member Chuck Blazer of the United States, meanwhile, anticipates a "political campaign", saying: "It is the national associations [that vote] and we will be meeting together with them in our region on May 3 in Miami and the question of who our region should support will come up at that time.
"One of the things that we have made a point of trying to do in the past and we will certainly hope to do this time is we try to vote collectively. We make a collective decision in our congress so as to have a greater impact on the results."
BBC sports editor David Bond reports: "There will be plenty of people who say, 'Mr Bin Hammam, you've been on Fifa's executive committee for the last 15 years, why now are you saying it needs change?'.
"But he is a serious challenger and he will hope to capitalise on the criticism Fifa and Blatter, in particular, have faced in recent months. Particularly, over these allegations of corruption in the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups."
Bin Hammam, who played an influential role in securing the 2022 World Cup for Qatar, also made clear he would support the introduction of goal-line technology if his bid for the top job was successful and said he would be in favour of introducing two more officials behind the goals.
The deadline for declaring an intention to run is 31 March, with the elections taking place at the two-day Fifa Congress in Zurich starting on 31 May.
Blatter, 75, has been in charge of world football's governing body since June 1998, and has not been challenged since 2002 when he defeated African confederation president Issa Hayatou by 139 votes to 56.
Bin Hammam, who made his fortune in construction, became president of Qatar club Al Rayyan when he was 24 before roles as the head of Qatar's volleyball and table tennis bodies.
He took command of the Qatar Football Association in 1992 and four years later was elected by the AFC to Fifa's executive.
American journalist Grant Wahl last month announced he intended to stand for presidency as a "people's candidate".
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