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I'll beat Bin Hammam, says key AFC rival

The man challenging Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam believes his chances of winning a crucial vote next month have improved after weeks of mud-slinging.

Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa, the chairman of the Bahrain football association, said he was confident of taking Bin Hammam's FIFA's executive committee seat, which is up for grabs at the AFC Congress on May 8.

If the Qatari loses that powerful position, he has said he will step down as AFC chief despite his term running until 2011.

"I am confident of my ability and my chances are better than my opponent in the battle for several reasons," Sheikh Salman told AFP.

"I did not prevent any of the Asian members from voting, I did not create laws to try and prevent others who have the right to vote from doing so, I did not interfere in the affairs of others.

"So let us now focus on the battle and see what we can do for Asian football."

Sheikh Salman's comments came after FIFA ruled on Friday that six Asian football associations had the right to vote at the AFC's Congress despite being informed that they did not meet the conditions to do so.

The nations -- Kuwait, Brunei, Laos, East Timor, Mongolia, Afghanistan -- are all expected to back the Sheikh, with a two-thirds majority of the AFC's 46 members needed to win the FIFA seat.

In the cases of Brunei, Laos, East Timor, Mongolia and Afghanistan, the AFC's ad-hoc legal committee said they had not played enough official competitions to be able to vote, but FIFA said they had.

The Kuwaitis were told they would be excluded from voting because the AFC did not recognise the temporary committee running their football affairs. Again, FIFA disagreed.

"What we want is for everyone, all associations, to have their say and to express their opinions with absolute freedom," said the Sheikh, who is running under an "Asia for Change" slogan.

"We want to promote equality among member associations, transparency within the AFC organisation, with an emphasis on transparency in reporting AFC finances, and promoting unity for the development of Asian football."

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Publication:AFP Global Edition
Date:Apr 27, 2009
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