Mohamed Bin Hammam stakes claim for Fifa presidency

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The Independent Football

FIFA presidential challenger Mohamed Bin Hammam has claimed the development of football has come to virtual standstill and that it is time for Sepp Blatter to stand down after 13 years as football's most powerful man.

The 61-year-old Qatari, once Blatter's most loyal ally, will run against the 75-year-old in the election on June 1, claiming it is time he steps down after 13 years as president.

Bin Hammam, who will meet the Football Association next month as part of his campaign, has promised more transparency in FIFA, open voting for World Cup bidding, and to limit the presidency to eight years.

He also promised to protect Britain's privileged position on the world governing body.

Blatter owes much to the Asian confederation chairman for his backing during the bitter 1998 and 2002 presidential election campaigns, but now his old supporter is gunning for him.

Bin Hammam, in Paris ahead of the UEFA Congress, told Press Association Sport: "I was a supporter of Blatter and I have never regretted anything about that - he has contributed a lot for the development of the game.

"But he has been there a long time in that position. There must be the question: Mr President - when is it enough?

"I will limit myself to a maximum of eight years. If I am elected I will bring the proposal back so that the president of FIFA remains only for eight years.

"Mr Blatter came wanting eight years, two mandates, then 12 years and three mandates, and now four mandates and actually nothing is changing in the last three or four years.

"I am not saying I am the Godfather of football but I don't see anything moving, anything changing.

"Most of what we are seeing and hearing is criticism from outside towards FIFA and most of the time I don't think it's fair.

"This is what is driving me."

Bin Hammam admitted that the pair had fallen out over FIFA issues in recent years but insisted they were not enemies.

"I see him as a friend," he said. "I wish that although I am presenting my candidacy he doesn't consider me as his enemy.

"In the last two or three years there has been a lot of confrontation between him and me, but in the right place which is in the executive committee, but that is for the better administration of football, it doesn't mean we hate each other."

Bin Hammam faces an uphill struggle to win votes in UEFA, many of whom would prefer Blatter to keep the seat warm for Michel Platini to take over in 2015, and up until today he had not even gained the backing of the FA from his own country Qatar.

The FA may provide high-profile backing though - senior figures in the organisation are pushing for them to officially back Bin Hammam though no decision will be made until a board meeting next month. The challenger insists he would not change the four British associations' privilege of having their own FIFA vice-president.

"No I will not change that," he said. "I enjoy a very good relationship with the FA and the Premier League and I am planning to meet them next month."

FIFA's reputation has been at rock-bottom, in some countries at least, since two FIFA members were banned after the Sunday Times corruption scandal involving the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids.

Bin Hammam insisted however that Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii had been hard-done-by and should be given "the benefit of the doubt".

He said: "My opinion is that my two colleagues have been trapped. Frankly speaking, I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt.

"Neither of them has asked for money for themselves, both has asked for the help of those promoters for their confederations, their countries, they personally were not going to benefit financially.

"FIFA is always under the focus for anything, people will attack FIFA 1,000 times more than any other organisation."

Bin Hammam did say FIFA should make voting for World Cups an open process where it was made public whom executive members had voted for.

"I see it as very reasonable, it's going to cut the doubts in FIFA back to zero. I don't see any reason why we should not vote openly," he added.