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Bin Hammam faces tough task to oust Blatter

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David Bond | 14:15 UK time, Friday, 18 March 2011

Mohamed Bin Hammam rates his chances of beating Sepp Blatter to become the new Fifa president as no more than "50-50". 

There will be plenty of people who will think that's a tad optimistic. 

Blatter is a formidable sports politician. And while he may not carry the full support of his excecutive committee, he enjoys deep and loyal support from the 208 member countries who will decide this contest on 1 June in Zurich. 

The last time Blatter faced a challenge was back in 2002 from the head of African football Issa Hayatou. He won by a landslide polling 139 votes to Hayatou's 56 - a remarkable margin of victory considering the campaign was overshadowed by a series of allegations of corruption and mismanagement of Fifa's finances.

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In many ways the situation is strikingly similar now. The bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups led to yet more allegations of corruption against senior Fifa officials and although he was not directly implicated, Blatter is being blamed for Fifa's lack of transparency and the decision to award Qatar the 2022 tournament. 

Like Hayatou almost a decade ago, Bin Hammam will run as the "clean hands" candidate; the coming man who will clean up Fifa.

In his speech to reporters in Kuala Lumpur this morning he vowed to make Fifa more transparent, less bureaucratic and to spread the organisation's vast wealth more evenly.

It is that wealth which makes this a very different contest to 2002. Fifa's finances at that time were in a terrible mess following the collapse of marketing partner International Sports and Leisure (ISL). 

The governing body very nearly went bust. Today they are sitting on a surplus of $1.28billion (£800m) thanks to greater than expected profits from the 2010 World Cup.

For the four year cycle from 2007 to 2011, Fifa enjoyed a 59% increase on the revenues generated during the 2006 World Cup in Germany allowing Fifa to record a surplus of $631m (£394m). And to think South Africa was supposed to be the big financial gamble for Fifa. 

Much of that money is then handed out to the 208 member associations (each of them have a vote, remember) via the Goal project, which was set up in 1999, one year after Blatter first became president.

According to Fifa's financial report for 2010, each association got an extraordinary payment of $550,000 (£343,750). Each confederation got $5m (£3.125m).

In many of the poorer nations which make up the "Fifa family", as Blatter might put it, this is serious, serious money.

Bin Hammam is head of the Goal committee so can claim some of the credit. But Blatter's campaign will focus on his track record of making Fifa, and the member associations, rich.

So does Bin Hammam stand a chance?

There is no doubt he is a serious player. As the head of Asian football he will obviously have support in his own confederation.

He also enjoys decent support in Africa and Europe.

He is particularly close to Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and the Football Association are likely to support him in the election despite divisions on the main board over the issue.

New chairman David Bernstein doesn't want to do anything which might jeopardise building bridges with Fifa and wants to leave it until the last minute to decide who might offer the FA the best chance of restoring relations.

But having lashed out at Fifa and Blatter after the World Cup 2018 bid humiliation the FA may feel it has nothing to lose in backing the challenger.

Whatever the FA decides, the European vote will be crucial and Uefa president Michel Platini's role in the election is fascinating.

The former France player is a possible successor to Blatter but there is a feeling that their relationship has soured in recent years.

Bin Hammam's entrance into the contest forces Platini to make a decision - switch back to supporting Blatter in the hope he can take over in 2015 as his anointed successor or use his influence to get Bin Hammam elected. That of course risks him having to wait until Bin Hammam has served his time as president which, as the Qatari is only 61, could be a long wait.

But Bin Hammam, surprisingly, does not necessarily enjoy the full support of Asia and Blatter has spent the last week building his own power base there.

The key may turn out to be the bloc of North American, Central American and Carribean nations controlled by Jack Warner.

There's another interesting question: does Bin Hammam really represent change? He has been on the Fifa executive committee for 15 years, has been a key ally of Blatter's and, afterall, was the driving force behind Qatar's successful World Cup campaign.

Will he really clean up Fifa or is he just another insider?

He has already set out his ideas to expand the executive committee, to streamline decision making and to build better relations with the professional leagues and clubs of Europe.

His vision for change will play well in the media but all that will have little influence over the Fifa congress which is not dominated by concerns over public image or the interests of big football clubs and leagues.

Here the minnows of the game hold the upper hand and Blatter has had them eating out of his for years.


  • Comment number 1.

    Great blog Dave, interesting stuff.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    Bin Hammam is backing the use of technology in football, which from a fans point of view makes him an appealing option, although lets face it anyone is against Blatter.
    Will this be a possible influential issue for the member countries, particularly in Europe, given Blatters well known hesitance on technology?

  • Comment number 5.

    no wonder the BBC are a joke. It's ok for the BBC to make damaging programmes prior to the world cup bid but not ok for the license payers to air their views on Blatter and FIFA.
    Good luck job hunting mods...not

  • Comment number 6.

    What's happened to American journalist Grant Wahl? I thought he intended to run for the FIFA presidency too:

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm sure the author of post #7 would like you to read his comment with the sounds of Land of Hooe and Glory in the background.

    Sadly all I can hear is the paddling of clown shoes.

  • Comment number 9.

    Or even Land of Hope and Glory.....

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    Football has stagnated under Blatter, the biggest change that he has made, is to make the World Champions qualify for the next World Cup instead of them having automatic qualification, and yes, because Im English and enjoy listening to Land of hope and glory, I say " Id rather have Coco The Clown than Blatter".

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Well Mr Blatter claims to be running on a platform of "transparency and anti-corruption" and who I am I to doubt him? If I did doubt him, the BBC mods would, no doubt, remove any such posting. And they did.

    I would be interested to know how much of the "Goal" money actually gets spent on grass-roots football projects, because the BBC's own "Panorama" programme suggested that, in several cases, precious little cash actually reaches the intended destination. Not that I'm doubting the best efforts of all involved.

  • Comment number 14.

    Fifa is like a commercial business, and I dont see why they are allowed to set such extortionate ticket prices at the world cup.

    Football is for the fans, and it is being taken out of there hands, much of the working class can no longer afford to go to games, and the middle class are also being squeezed out.

    But I suppose as long as its 'commercial partners' are happy, then its all okay.

  • Comment number 15.

    @deadley_ledley Grant Wahl is still standing.

    I would love it if he managed to get onto the final ballot. I know he has no chance of winning, but it might (though probably won't) force the winner to make concessions.

  • Comment number 16.

    I would rather Gadaffi than Blatter !

  • Comment number 17.

    I would rather a human than Blatter !

  • Comment number 18.

    I would rather anyone than Blatter!

    I really hope bin Hammam wins, just because FIFA needs change. Blatter has been in power for 12 years and shows no signs of accepting progressive suggestions, or even admitting that they exist half the time. He's bad for the game.

    Though honestly, I wouldn't trust anyone already in FIFA to do anything good. Football is entertainment, nothing more. These FIFA bigwigs need someone to come in and remind them of that.

    By the way, David Bond, it is permissible to have more than one sentence per paragraph.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well, time for the Europeans to put their money where their mouths are. The FA was scathing (and rightly so) in its criticism of FIFA after the 2018/2022 World Cups bidding madness. It would be most hypocritical of them to then fail to follow through with what is a logical decision: to publicly withdraw their support from Blatter. This might even embolden the smaller associations that fear antagonising Blatter, while forcing the bigger ones - and UEFA - to come out once and for all against Blatter's clearly unsavoury leadership of FIFA.
    But it won't happen, will it? The FA, despite the tough words, is all bark and no bite: Blatter will be re-elected. Sadly.

  • Comment number 20.

    In the bigger scheme of things, a challenge for the FIFA Presidency does not change the landscape. The real battles are yet to come.

  • Comment number 21.

    Throughout History there have been countless times when people with power have stayed far too long. I feel that if 8 years is the longest allowed for the President of the U.S.A. then the head of F.I.F.A. should only be allowed 6 years.

  • Comment number 22.

    Very good blog, enjoyed reading it!

    I can't see Blatter being replaced simply because the other members around him are so happy in their little corrupt world, they don't want anything to change. They get their money, they get what they want and from their point of view it should stay like that.

    I'd love to see a change in presidency and have done for some time. I think we will have a lot longer to wait though, sadly.

    Look forward to reading your next piece!

  • Comment number 23.

    I don't understand why so many comments are being removed?
    If opinions were not wanted, then why post an article like this? You must expect to receive some very strong views on the subject and that is what makes these discussions so interesting.

    Perhaps some more sense in needed under these circumstances.

  • Comment number 24.

    David Bernstein will end up kissing the feet of the Master and pledging his support, if he hasn't done so already.

  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 26.

    Good luck Mr Bin Hammam. FIFA needs a rebirth after recent years, to clear it's name.

  • Comment number 27.

    I hope Bin Hammam wins just so I don't have to see Joseph Sepp Blatter lapping up the attention at photo shoots with world leaders thinking he's all that and more

  • Comment number 28.

    I dont trust both guys, but Bin Hammam seems a better option.

    Anything to get rid of Blatter's dictatorship suits me

  • Comment number 29.

    It is not so much who heads up FIFA but the whole structure needs an overhaul. There is a conflict of interest between promoting football and running the massively profitable World Cup. The clubs pay the players wages, yet FIFA wants more friendlies played between countries plus longer qualifying.

    The clubs naturally want the reverse. There is a case for splitting FIFA into the World Cup bit and the promotion of football worldwide. What benefit is it to football that half of Asia is included in European qualifying? All you get is European player fatigue.

    Why is it that in Europe qualifying that every small principality plays yet in South America the 3 Guina nations are excluded. Likewise in Africa not all nations play in final qualifying. Undoubtedly in both continents only the best nations qualify something that cannot be levelled at Europe.

    The blocking of technology advance for refereeing is ludicrous. I cannot believe that one man has so much say within FIFA, but am more inclined to think it as a faceless bureaucracy that is loathe to change or rock the boat. Perhaps there is too much money sloshing in the coffers and promotes inertia. If Blatter really does have that much influence, then this must be changed rather than think that the next person wont succumb to the reins of power.

  • Comment number 30.

    I thought that Blatter was Coco The Clown.

  • Comment number 31.

    Anyone other than Sepp Blatter will be considered as progress.

  • Comment number 32.

    If Mohamed Bin Hammam favours Goal Line Technology then can someone please point out to him that goal line technology will be required about ONCE in every ONE THOUSAND games, approximately. So therefore let's please just incorporate the decision into a video appeal.

  • Comment number 33.

    If Mohamed Bin Hammam wants transparency then utilise this idea and win the election.
    2 "Video Appeals" per team.
    To stop abuse of the appeal a team can only make a video appeal in their own half if the ball is dead or out of play.
    The appeal can be made at any time whilst the ball is in the opposition half even when the ball is in play.
    The ball is deemed "IN" the half only when the ball has touched the ground or a player in that specific half.
    The real beauty of the "video appeal" is to make the Linesmen more "pro-active" ...they will be under pressure to make more decisions, (psychological accountability) as a result they will be become more confident and assertive, more authoritarian, at the moment they are more inclined to shy away from making many decisions.
    Let the Linesmen/women ENCROACH on to the pitch so when Agbonlahor is racing on to a 50 yard pass and the Ref is unsighted and 65 yards away the Linesmen can be better positioned, assist effectively and have a massive psychological effect on the players.
    Take away his FLAG give him green flourescent sleeves and bright gloves so he can run faster and keep up with the line of play, he is miked up so communication is not an issue !

    This is the most efficient way of utilising three officials, placing an official behind the goal does not answer the most important dilema in football, the offside law.
    Good luck to Mohammed Bin Hammam !

  • Comment number 34.

    blatter is a dinosaur an oaf he and homer simpson are cut from the same cloth except homer is written like that blatter is born like that

  • Comment number 35.

    if blatter suddenly for whatever reason can no longer run fifa then i assume fifa have an election and two new candidates run for presedent

  • Comment number 36.

    if i had to make a vote and it was between joseph sepp blatter and jack bauer bauer wins hands down

  • Comment number 37.

    hey you guy want a laugh head over to youtube hillarious clip of blatter falls of a stage

  • Comment number 38.


    There is actually a lot that can be learned with respect to video technology from what has been done in North America in the NHL and NFL. I find it rather annoying to listen to supposedly knowledgeable sports pundits dismiss video technology out of hand on the assumption that it would ruin the game.

    The NFL does this by making each team choose when a review will be requested. If referee has the necessary equipment on site to make a decision within a minute or two. If the on field decision is upheld, the team that requested the review loses one time out (highly valuable in American Football). I don't know what an equivalent price might be in (real) football. In the past I thought of losing a substitution or giving the opposing team an extra substitution if a team has used theirs up already.

    In the NHL there is a separate team of specialist reviewers who watch all games remotely for occurrences where a video review might be required, usually to determine if a goal should be allowed or not. If they see something they immediately stop the game and have the power to over-rule the on-ice decision (after consulting with the referee by phone). Again, the whole process takes about a minute or two and rarely occurs more than one a game (if at all).

    In either system we don't hear many complaints that the old way was better. And any delays can easily be added as extra time.

    Personally, I think the NFL system would work best in football, but there needs to be a price to discourage frivolous requests for review. Capping it to 2 reviews/match seems arbitrary to me, but it's better than nothing.

  • Comment number 39.

    Interesting blog.

    I wonder though, will there be a change? The exec council members obviously have a lot of clout in their confederations;

    "The key may turn out to be the bloc of North American, Central American and Carribean nations controlled by Jack Warner."

    These guys are not necessarily going to want the change as any 'openness' is not going to be in their interests if it will mean they lose their priviledges such as the round the world jet-setting and so on. And Blatter is, as you say, a sports politician.

  • Comment number 40.

    I note that the current head of FIFA is 75 years of age. The new man is already 61 years of age.
    We are not permitted to discriminate on age and a whole lot of other grounds, but the present problems in the Middle East revolve in part around people of old age who fight yesterday's problems.
    Time to give someone in their 40s or early 50s a chance with a limit on period of time in office, say five years?
    I am 64 years of age, so the good news is that I will not be applying!

  • Comment number 41.

    Can we please get a new FIFA president from one of the true footballing nations of the world?

    I don't know anything about Mr. Bin Hammam but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. However, he is from the fringe of the game and the game needs leadership from those at its core: the major leagues of Europe or South America.

  • Comment number 42.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    How old is Blatter? 75 years old? Don't they have a retirement age at FIFA? My local bus company would not let a 75 year old man drive one of their busses. How come a 75 year old can run an international organisation?

  • Comment number 46.

    Hope bin Hammam introduces a compulsory retirement age of 64 - like any other business, so he himself only stays in office for one term, should he win..

  • Comment number 47.

    It may sound strange but i almost hope blatter wins. Anyone involved in fifa that long will probably have reached any "inner circles" if such things do exist in fifa, if this is the case then surely blatter annoying people to distraction for four more years then finally some actual change happening would be better as opposed to realsing we are back to square one ten years down the line.

  • Comment number 48.

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  • Comment number 49.

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  • Comment number 50.

    Its time for change. We have seen Blatter for too long in this position and he has done sweet FA in last few years.

  • Comment number 51.

    If Fifa had any real care for the future of football they should inform Blatter now that his candidature is unwelcome, and bring in an outside president from one of the serious footballing nations with a clear brief to turn the organisation upside down and restore its credibility.

    Sadly their idea of change seems to be the vague possibility of picking another puppy from the same litter.

  • Comment number 52.

    As the Who once sang.... "Meet the new boss.... same as the old boss!"


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