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Ex-AFC official warns body in danger of splitting

Ex-AFC official warns body in danger of splitting

A former top official of the Asian Football Confederation accused AFC president Mohammad bin Hammam on Tuesay of being a dictator who rules by fear and warned that some of the group's 46 members may quit if he stays in power.
The allegations by Peter Velappan, who was the AFC's secretary-general from 1978 to 2007, are the latest twist in a rebellion by some members against Hammam.
The Qatari official is bidding to become a member of FIFA's executive committee, which would make him the Asian representative on the sport's global governing body. The election is scheduled for Friday in Kuala Lumpur.
Hammam has said he would quit as AFC president if he loses the election to Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa, a member of Bahrain's royal family.
The AFC "was a house of love and joy. Today it is a house of terror and fear. That's what Hammam has done to it," said Velappan, a Malaysian who remains influential in Asian soccer.
He praised Hammam for promoting and developing the sport in Asia when he first took over as president in 2002.
But when he began a second term in 2006, "we lost Hammam and inherited an authoritarian who became a dictator," Velappan said. "I don't know for what reasons. Maybe he couldn't handle the power that Asian football has given him."
"He has gradually usurped the powers (of the AFC's executive committee) so that he can make all the decisions," Velappan said.
Hammam was not immediately available for comment and AFC officials refused to comment.
Earlier this year, the AFC's legal committee told Afghanistan, Laos, East Timor and Mongolia that their non-participation in regional competitions over the past two years had rendered them ineligible to vote in Friday's election. Critics said the AFC committee, which was hand-picked by Hammam, issued the ruling because these countries would vote against him.
However, FIFA recently reversed the ruling, and also reinstated Kuwait, another critic of Hammam, which had been told by the AFC that it was ineligible to vote as it was being run by an interim body.
But Hammam has stood by his position, saying the six countries would not be allowed to vote.
Velappan cited Hammam's refusal to let those countries vote as an example of his authoritarian ways.
"If the issue of voting rights is not settled, members may quit AFC," Velappan said.
If that happens, FIFA may rule that the AFC no longer represents its members and may even expel it from the world federation, he said.
"AFC is really in a crisis. He (Hammam) is a serious threat to the unity, stability and harmony of Asian football if he continues (in office)," Velappan said.
Meanwhile, Salman's camp has accused Bin Hammam of handing out money and favors to national associations of poor countries to win the vote, a charge he denies.
Hammam has in turn accused the Olympic Council of Asia of offering financial inducements in the form of grants to nations who vote for Salman. The OCA is based in Kuwait, an ally of Salman.
The OCA has threatened legal action against Bin Hammam, while Salman has rejected the claims.


Updated : 2021-04-16 10:37 GMT+08:00