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Bin Hammam steps up war of words

ASIAN Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam has stepped up his personal power battle with FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon of South Korea by accusing his rival of knowing nothing about football and fair play.

Bin Hammam is fighting an increasingly bitter election 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.

"Chung and myself have never enjoyed a good relationship in the 20 years or so since I came to the AFC. The second thing is that 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 said.

"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 to last until 2011. His position on the FIFA committee will be decided by a vote at the AFC executive meetings on May 8. He has publicly said that if he loses his seat - decided by a straight vote of 46 member nations - he will step down from his position as AFC chief.

"This man (Salman) used to be a very close ally of mine," bin Hammam said. "I am not saying that this is a reason for him not to contest the election, but the gentlemen himself had no ambition in that way, so the idea is that someone has pushed him and forced him to go that way."

While Chung was unavailable for comment, KFA general secretary Sam Ka said he was disappointed to hear of bin Hammam's allegations.

"It's a real pity to hear that Mr. Hammam, in such a special position like the president of the AFC, says such allegations without any evidence or grounds," Ka said. "I feel sorry to hear this kind of thing happening in Asian football. I hope he could regain his composure to speak in a more reasonable way with more clear evidence and objectives."

Chung is also a significant shareholder of South Korean shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries. Bin Hammam said Salman is vice president and part owner of a company which serves as an agent for Hyundai in Bahrain. "As you can see the personal commercial interest between Salman and Chung is there," he said.

Bin Hammam questioned Chung's ethics in the context of an election campaign.

"I was preparing for a clean and fair play campaign," he said. "One thing you know that if Chung is your opponent then a fair campaign is not going to be there. We witnessed this in the campaign for 2002 for the FIFA presidency when Chung led the group against (FIFA chief Sepp) Blatter. This is his nature."


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