DOHA, Qatar – A top Asian soccer executive says Sepp Blatter has been at FIFA too long and needs to be replaced as president of the sport's governing body.
Less than two months ago, Mohamed bin Hammam helped Qatar surprisingly land the 2022 World Cup following a voting process marred by accusations of bribery. Bin Hammam, president of Asia's soccer federation, says Blatter's longevity in office has contributed to an unhealthy perception of the organization.
"Everybody is going to accuse us today as corrupted people because maybe people see Mr. Blatter has stayed a long time in FIFA," Bin Hammam told The Associated Press on Monday.
"Thirty-five years in one organization is quite long time. No matter how clean you are, honest or how correct you are, still people will attack you. You are going to be defenseless. That is why I believe change is the best thing for the organization."
The 74-year-old Blatter joined FIFA in 1975 as technical director and became general secretary in 1981 and president in 1998. He is up for re-election for a fourth four-year term as FIFA president in June, and so far no one is running against him. Although Bin Hammam has said that he wants to someday replace Blatter, he declined to say whether he will challenge the incumbent this year.
"I did not make up my mind yet," Bin Hammam said. "I would rather wait and see."
The 61-year-old Bin Hammam is hoping that someone will run against Blatter.
"I'm actually seeking to see competition within FIFA for the post. I would prefer to see two candidates proposing themselves, or maybe more than two proposing themselves to the congress of FIFA," Bin Hammam said. "Competition is good for the organization, whether president or any other posts. Competition is the best way to make the organization vibrant and alive."
As for suggestions that Qatar might host the 2022 World Cup in January, to avoid the searing summer heat, Bin Hammam said it was "premature" for FIFA to be even talking about it.
"We in FIFA should stop acting on behalf of people who are going to be in power in the future," he said. "There will be a different executive committee in FIFA which will be in power that day. Let them decide what is best for 2022," he said. "Why are we rushing? Why are you in hurry to decide something for 2022?"
Bin Hammam also continued to defend suspended FIFA executives Amos Adamu of Nigeria and Reynald Temarii of Tahiti, who were accused of taking bribes and trading votes before last month's election of host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. The 2018 World Cup will be in Russia.
Both men deny wrongdoing, have appealed their sanctions and will have hearings on Feb. 2-3.
"I believe none have asked for anything for their own benefit," he said.
The Sunday Times published video showing Adamu requesting $800,000 to build four artificial soccer fields in his native Nigeria, and for the money to be paid to him directly.
On the issue of goal-line technology, Bin Hammam gave a much stronger endorsement than Blatter, who stipulated it could be used for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as long as proves to be fast and accurate.
Pointing to intensive television coverage at stadiums, Bin Hammam said: "If more and more cameras are brought in and identify each and every mistake, we need technology that helps and supports the referees, so I believe goal-line technology is very important."