Mohamed Bin Hammam to challenge Sepp Blatter for Fifa presidency

Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam has today confirmed he will challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency.

The 61-year-old Qatari has spent the past two months weighing up possible support among the 208 national associations who make up FIFA as he bids to end Blatter's 13-year reign.

"Today, after careful study, consultation and consideration, armed with my love and passion for football and believing that football is about fair competition, I have decided to contest the upcoming FIFA Presidency election, scheduled on June 1, 2011," said Bin Hammam.

"I am glad to say that the AFC Executive Committee encouraged me and supported me in my candidacy and I am inviting the member associations, football communities and media to be part of my humble endeavour to make the change that is necessary and needed in FIFA."

Bin Hammam also proposed to form a FIFA Board in place of the existing FIFA Executive Committee and increase the number of seats for all the confederations.

"I propose UEFA gets four more seats, CAF four more seats, Asia four more seats, CONCACAF three more seats, CONMEBOL one more seat and OFC one more seat," he said.

"A new executive committee will be coming, 40 members plus the president is 41 and it will avoid as much as possible for the privilege of the casting vote going to the president.

"I will rename the Executive Committee the FIFA Board and will transfer all the duties and the responsibilities of the Executive Committee as it is today to the FIFA Board."

Other proposals put forward, providing he is elected, include establishing a transparency committee and doubling the financial assistance given to each member association.

The election will take place in Zurich on June 1 and Bin Hammam will travel around the world between now and then trying to drum up support.

His first trip will be to Thailand later today and he will then travel to Paris for next week's UEFA Congress.

One of the key countries he will target is China, who have long been a supporter of Blatter and who wield much influence in football, especially in Asia.

The European countries who make up UEFA are likely to be split between Blatter and Bin Hammam, as are the African nations.

Bin Hammam has a strong relationship with South America after he won their backing for Qatar's 2022 World Cup bid but even inside Asia, his own confederation, he cannot be sure of universal support.

It may be that FIFA's long-time 'kingmaker' Jack Warner will once again hold the keys to power. Warner controls 35 votes as president of the CONCACAF federation and they always vote as a bloc.

Blatter has not had a challenger since 2002 when he beat Cameroon's Issa Hayatou in a landslide victory by 139 votes to 56.

Bin Hammam, once a loyal Blatter ally and a shrewd tactician and empire-builder, is likely to prove a much tougher opponent.

Blatter has already embarked on a campaign tour himself and has been in Bin Hammam's Asian heartland visiting Burma, East Timor and Laos this week.