Bin Hammam may use a Doha conference this week to announce his intentions to take on Blatter for the FIFA presidency (Getty)

(WFI) World Football INSIDER rounds up the 10 things you need to know about the global football business today.

Bin Hammam hints at possible Blatter challenge
Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam has signalled again that he may yet stand against Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency. After the two-day FIFA Executive Committee meeting last week during which it was decided that the AFC and the other five continental confederation will retain the same number of qualifying places for Brazil 2014 World Cup as they had at South Africa 2010, Bin Hammam said on his Twitter page: “Competition is the best way to make the organisation vibrant and alive. Competition is good for the organisation, whether president or any other posts.” A challenge from Bin Hammam for the top job in world football now seems a remote possibility, despite previous hints dropped by the Qatari that he might be a candidate at the June 1 FIFA presidential election. If he is campaigning for support among FIFA’s 208 member associations, it has been very low key. Bin Hammam has 459 Facebook friends but only 148 followers on Twitter. He has not felt the need to follow Sepp Blatter on Twitter; the Swiss has 118, 580 followers.

Goal projects benefit Blatter campaign
Sepp Blatter is using the success of FIFA’s Goal projects as the latest tool in his campaign to be re-elected as FIFA president. Speaking after the 17th Goal Bureau meeting in Zurich, he underlined how the initiative was benefiting member associations worldwide. “Goal projects have received appreciation from all over the world. We must not only continue to build technical centres and pitches, but must strive to maintain them so the players and the youth of all countries can continue to benefit from them over the years. This is the legacy FIFA wants to leave,” he was quoted on FIFA.com. The Goal Bureau is in fact chaired by Blatter’s potential rival, Bin Hammam. Since the launch of the Goal Programme in 1999, it has overseen the completion of 522 projects in 193 of FIFA’s member associations. “Due to the comfortable financial position that we are and due to the importance of development, FIFA will raise the fund now from $400,000 to $500,000 for each Goal project,” Blatter added. About 200 additional Goal projects are expected to be granted from 2011 to 2014.

Bin Hammam at Doha conference
As one of the speakers at the first International Sports
Security Conference at Doha’s Aspire Zone on Wednesday and Thursday, the AFC boss is likely to be asked about a possible challenge to Blatter by reporters covering the event.
Liverpool’s former chief executive, Rick Parry, and Helmut Spahn, head
of security at the Germany 2006 World Cup) are also on the speaker list.

Changes coming for UEFA’s ruling body
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino says that the sole candidacy of Michel Platini for the presidency of European football’s governing body are a “sign of widespread support for the reforms he has introduced since he took office”. In the new edition of UEFA•direct, he adds: “Their scope and scale clearly require a certain continuity.” Platini will be voted in for another four-year term at the UEFA Congress in Paris on March 22. The congress will also decide on the composition of the UEFA Executive Committee for the next two years, with 13 candidates competing for seven seats on the ruling body. Of the outgoing members, six are standing for re-election, while Joseph Mifsud is stepping down after 17 years of service. Three of UEFA’s seven seats on the FIFA Executive Committee also up for grabs, including Franz Beckenbauer’s. The other candidates and their manifestos are introduced in the latest edition of UEFA•direct.

Tunisian football to restart
The Tunisian football league will resume this weekend after being suspended because of pro-democracy uprisings that brought down the President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January. The TAP news agency reports that the country’s sports ministry has confirmed that the football league will restart on March 13.

Euro 2012 image makeover for Ukraine
Leonid Kravchuk, Ukraine’s first post-independence president, says the 2012 European Championships will significantly improve the country’s image on the world stage. “When Ukraine hosts Euro hundreds of millions will watch it on TV, and hundreds of thousands will come here to meet Ukrainians, speak to them, see our beautiful land,” he said in an interview with UEFA.com “I have no doubt the world will discover a new Ukraine in 2012. The tournament’s positive impact on Ukraine will be monumental. The main thing, in my opinion, is that Ukraine will make a big step towards Europe, its standard of living and values.” Meanwhile, former USSR midfielder Igor Kulchytskiy is boosting Euro 2012 preparations in his home town Lviv, one of the eight host cities for the tournament. “I’ll do everything possible to help our city make the best possible preparations for the tournament,” said Kravchuk after becoming Ukraine’s 20th ‘Friend of Euro 2012’ “After Euro 2012 we’ll have very good sporting infrastructure, giving our children great training facilities.”

Pele bemoans influence of powerful agents
Brazilian football legend Pele believes the influence of player agents is a growing threat to the game. “They do not care if the player is good or not. They want to sell the player and get the money. That’s the danger for the future of football,” he was quoted by AFP, while in Hong Kong on a promotional tour of Asia with the New York Cosmos. The club’s honorary president, who played for the Cosmos in the 1970s at the end of his career, is helping them to attract investors and sponsors, even though there is no

Wenger says Arsenal must play an attacking game at the Camp Nou (Getty)

team in place. The Cosmos hope to join Major League Soccer in 2014. Pele also praised improvements in the standard of Asian football since he toured the continent as a player. “The level is fantastic, it’s very hard to come here and play. What they need is an opportunity to win the World Cup, and the coaches and players to experience other leagues to raise their level,” he said.

Drogba to participate in Global Sports Forum
Chelsea & Ivory Coast star Didier Drogba is a speaker at the third annual Global Sports Forum in Barcelona this week. Drogba will join former Brazilian star Raï to debate the role of social responsibility within sport at the March 9-11 conference. The 33-year-old striker created The Didier Drogba Foundation in 2007 to help improve the daily lives of the less fortunate in Africa.

Attack-minded Arsenal seek to overcome Barcelona
One of the footballing highlights this week is Arsenal’s trip to Camp Nou for the second leg of their round of 16 Champions League tie against Barcelona on Tuesday night. With a 2-1 aggregate lead, Arsene Wenger’s team are hoping to complete the job against Pep Guardiola’s star-studded team. But they are mindful of the 4-1 pasting handed out by Barca at the Camp Nou last season when Lionel Messi scored all the goals for the La Liga giants. Wenger says his team must play an attacking game. “We’ve not enough security to sit back and defend. You can’t go to Barcelona, play for a 0-0 and not try to score. It’s also not the personality of this team. We’ll try to score when we get the ball back,” he told Arsenal.com.

Bayern boss heading for the chop
Bayern Munich’s beleaguered boss Louis van Gaal on Monday was given the dreaded vote of confidence by club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and president Uli Hoeness after Bayern’s third consecutive defeat, a 3-1 loss to Hanover at the weekend. It’s Bayern’s worst run of results for more than a decade and puts them seven points adrift of the second-place Bundesliga spot to guarantee Champions League football next season. But Van Gaal may not last much longer, if Rummenigge’s comments after the match are anything to go by. “The way we’ve played today absolutely marks the low point of the season. The last eight days have been a catastrophe,” he told the club’s website. “We at Bayern are currently in a situation which causes us grave concern.”

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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