Velappan appeals to India to unseat AFC president Hammam

April 8th, 2009 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) secretary-general Peter Velappan Wednesday launched a scathing attack on president Mohammad Bin Hammam, saying that the Qatari’s removal will restore democracy to the Asian organisation.
Velappan, who was AFC secretary-general for nearly three decades before resigning two years ago, was in India with Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa to seek support of the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to vote against Hammam in elections for the FIFA executive committee in the AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur, May 8.

Forty-six members of the AFC will vote in a secret ballot to elect the four members.

Hammam has held the West Asia FIFA seat since 1996, and Sheikh Salman will contest against him this time from West. Asia has four seats on the FIFA executive committee.

“Hammam has made AFC his own property and is running it like his family business. He has cornered countries like Japan and South Korea,” Velappan said.

“I think this is best opportunity to dislodge Hammam because he had already declared that if he loses the executive committee seat, he would also resign as the AFC president,” he said.

Velappan said that Hammam, whose term as the AFC president gets over in 2011, was fine during his first term but slowly his attitude changed with more power.

“He aspires to be the FIFA president. More powers made him autocratic and now he is just like a dictator in the AFC. He also wanted to move the AFC headquarters out of Malaysia. It was like an arrow through my heart and when I got to know of this move, I decided to come out and campaign to remove this man,” he said.

Hammam had come under fire for a controversial plan to shift the AFC headquarters from Malaysia. The move was criticised by, among others, FIFA vice-president Chung Mong-Joon of South Korea.

South Korea’s football body also demanded an apology from Hammam, who in a television interview reportedly insulted Korean Football Association (KFA) chief Cho Jung-Yeon by saying he was ready to “cut Cho’s head off.”

Like Sheikh Salman, Hammam is also on a campaign trail and visited India last month to seek votes. AIFF has received more than $1million as AFC grant during Hammam’s tenure.

Hammam, who is a close ally of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, reportedly said he has 31 votes and is confident of winning.

But Velappan claimed that the western countries are also against Hammam. “Saudi Arabia, Kuwait have already showed their support for Sheikh Ebrahim. Japan and South Korea are also backing us.”

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