Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Mohammad Bin Hammam rounded off his two-day visit to the capital with the promise of change if elected FIFA President. The Qatari is contesting against 75-year-old Sepp Blatter who has been the most powerful figure in global football for the last 13 years.
The 61-year-old described his chances as “50-50” against the stalwart, saying “It is not about competing against a person who has been in the seat for so long. A lot of people are looking forward to changes and new ideas.”
He made it clear that he enjoyed India’s support. “I have always had a good relationship with the All -India Football Federation (AIFF) and Praful Patel is like a brother to me.” All 208 FIFA member states get a vote for the election (a minnow, namely India, and superpower like Brazil both get a single vote) which will take place in Zurich on June 1 this year.
During his time here, Bin Hammam inaugurated a seminar of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) and chaired a meeting of AFC ad-hoc committee on professionalizing Indian football. The SAFF members include India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Afghanistan, of which India and Bangladesh have already virtually assured their vote.
“This will be an Asian Project. I’m representing all of you in this continent. I wish that every one of you pray that Asia will succeed in giving a FIFA president this time. This will be for Asia,” he said of his presidential run and emphasised a committment to raise the standards of the game in India.