AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam accuses FIFA Vice President Chung Mong-joon of instigating a bid to oust him from power. (Joseph Barrak/AFP/Getty Images)

Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed bin Hammam has stepped up his power battle with FIFA Vice President Chung Mong-joon of South Korea, accusing his rival of knowing nothing about football and fair play.

Bin Hammam is fighting an increasingly bitter campaign to protect his seat on FIFA’s executive committee from the challenge of Bahrain football chief Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Khalifa.

The Qatari believes that Chung and the Korean Football Association are behind Shaikh Salman’s campaign.

Bin Hammam says he and Chung haven’t been on good terms since he came to the AFC about 20 years ago.

“Chung is trying to contest for FIFA presidency … and he thinks that I am not going to support him, which is absolutely right,” Bin Hammam told The Associated Press.

“There is no way I am going to support him. This man knows nothing about football.”

Bin Hammam has been president of the AFC since 2002, with his term expiring in 2011. His position on the FIFA committee will be decided by a vote of his executive committee during the AFC Congress in Bangkok in May.

He says that if he loses the seat he will also step down as president.

According to bin Hammam, his Bahraini challenger for the West Asian seat on the FIFA executive committee used to be a close ally and he had not previously known him to have any ambitions for a FIFA seat.

“So the idea is that someone has pushed him and forced him to go that way,” he said.

KFA General Secretary Sam Ka told The Associated Press he was disappointed to hear of bin Hammam’s comments “without any evidence or grounds.”

Bin Hammam has repeatedly asserted that Chung is the figure behind Salman’s bid.

Apart from his role as FIFA vice president, Chung is also a member of the body’s executive committee and an honorary head of the KFA after stepping down from his 16-year presidency.

He is also a significant shareholder in South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries. Bin Hammam – highlighting the pair’s links – says Salman is vice president and part owner of a company which serves as an agent for Hyundai in Bahrain.

In February, bin Hammam moved to pre-empt a challenge by Salman, proposing the AFC president automatically be appointed as a FIFA vice president.

Any such new rule would be at the expense of Chung’s executive committee seat.

FIFA Forces Ethiopia Football Shakeup

The new management of the Ethiopian Football Federation has agreed to step down as part of FIFA’s plan to resolve the nation’s football crisis.

The EFF has been under pressure from FIFA and CAF since last July to

FIFA has forced a restructuring of the Ethiopian Football Federation in an effort to resolve the nation’s football crisis. (Getty Images)

accept the ‘road map,’ which urges it to halt its activities and restore the former management.

FIFA suspended Ethiopia last July after the EFF was involved in a dispute where the former management and executive committee were replaced by new management.

The latest development is likely to lift FIFA sanctions imposed on Ethiopia by FIFA and CAF, which include a funding freeze.

Former EFF President Ashebir Woldegiorgisse was allowed to collect his documents from the EFF office at the request of FIFA.

Ethiopia joined FIFA in 1952 and CAF in 1957.

FIFA Gets Aggressive With Confederation Cup Marketing Effort

With less than three months to go to the opening game in the Confederations Cup in South Africa, and only a third of tickets sold, FIFA has ramped up its effort to fill seats, General Secretary Jerome Valcke says.

Of the 640, 000 tickets available for the eight-nation ‘champion of champions’ tournament, Valcke says less than 200,000 tickets have been sold.

To avoid the spectacle of the likes of Brazil and Italy playing in sparsely-populated stadiums, FIFA has increased the proportion of cheap category-four tickets from 18 percent to 25 percent and relaxed rules barring individuals or companies from bulk buying.

Valcke says companies and private persons can now buy “thousands” of tickets if they promise not to resell them or step on the toes of FIFA sponsors.

The June 14-28 Confederations Cup is widely considered a dry run for South Africa’s organization of and preparedness for the 2010 World Cup.

Valcke was in South Africa attending a South Africa-Norway game to get a taste of what a World Cup game might be like.

He says on the basis of the game in the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, the first of 10 World Cup stadiums to reopen after a face-lift, stadium access has emerged as “critical.”

The stadium, which organizers said had nearly sold out, was half full for much of the action. Fans were held up by stringent security checkpoints 1.2 miles from the venue.

“We have to work on this critical issue,” Valcke says, adding that another concern was punctuality. The match started two minutes late.

World Cup Ticket Applications Pass Million Mark

Over one million World Cup ticket applications have been received by FIFA online, mostly from South Africans the local organizing committee says.

“The number of applications has far exceeded FIFA’s and the local organizing committee’s expectations,” organizers said in a statement.

“Not surprisingly, the country that has submitted the largest

number of applications is South Africa followed by the United Kingdom and the USA.”

There are only 743,000 available tickets for the first phase of sales which ends on March 31.

“We have had a phenomenal response from football fans around the world. We do expect a last-minute rush over the next few days to beat the deadline, particularly in South Africa,” said Jerome Valcke.

About half of all applications so far have been for the Team Specific Series, allowing fans to follow their team of choice as it progresses through the tournament.

Valcke says this trend shows such packages, first introduced in 2002, are gaining popularity.

All applicants will know whether their applications have been successful by the end of April.

The second sales period will begin on May 4 and continue through Nov. 16, with remaining tickets allocated on a “first come first served, subject to availability basis.”

Briefs…

…FIFA’s betting watchdog has dismissed suspected corruption surrounding a World Cup qualifying match between Moldova and Switzerland last Saturday. Betting authorities in Russia reported a large number of wagers correctly predicting that Switzerland would win the match 2-0. FIFA says its expert monitoring service investigated betting patterns and found them to be normal.

Last week, UEFA charged the president and a former player of Macedonian club FK Pobeda with fixing a Champions League match in 2004. The case will be heard April 17.

…Hill & Knowlton has been appointed to handle global communications for the Belgium and Holland joint bid for the 2018/2022 World Cup finals. The company will be responsible for strategy and all worldwide communications activities up until the vote in December 2010.The Dutch office functions as the ‘lead office.’

Hill & Knowlton supported the successful Olympic and Paralympic campaigns of London 2012 and Athens 2004 and was the official communications agency of the organizing committee of the 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing.

…The bid committee representing the US Soccer Federation’s campaign to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022 has hired Fleishman-Hillard International Communications to drive its public relations and communications effort.
Fleishman-Hillard, headquartered in St Louis with 31 offices in the U.S. and 80 worldwide, will work on campaign themes, public affairs, special events and other public relations initiatives.

Written by Anthony Stavrinos

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