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Thu 11 Mar 2010 02:52 PM

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Qatar's Bin Hammam faces tough fight for FIFA top job

'It’s very difficult to beat the [current FIFA] president, Sepp Blatter' - Franz Beckenbauer.

The Qatari president of the Asian Football Confederation, Mohammed Bin Hammam, will have a fight on his hands if he chooses to take on long-standing FIFA boss Sepp Blatter in a battle for the presidency, legendary German footballer Franz Beckenbauer has said.

The former Germany coach said Bin Hamman, one of football’s most powerful men, will face an uphill battle to oust Blatter, who has served eight years as FIFA president and announced his intention to stand for a fourth term in the 2011 elections.

“It’s a kind of a fight. I think it’s very difficult to beat the president, Sepp Blatter. If it comes to a fight between him and Bin Hammam, I don’t know,” said Beckenbauer, who is also a member of FIFA’s executive committee.  “I mean, to have a FIFA president come from Asia, it would [make] history.”

At the AFC conference in Seoul last month, Qatar-born Bin Hammam said “the time had come” to put forward an Asian candidate. In a move that marked him as Blatter’s biggest rival, he also called for FIFA presidents to be restricted to serving two terms, an idea that is unheard of in FIFA politics. However, he stopped short of declaring his candidacy outright.

The AFC counts the Gulf countries, Jordan. Iraq, and Lebanon among its member states.

The comments drew a bullish response from Blatter, who told press: “It seems obvious that there will be a candidate from Asia but I have not changed my mind.

“I slept well despite the news from Seoul. I am still here and I hope I will still be here in 2011. I have not finished my mission and if the congress decides [to back me] then I will still be here.”

Asked which of the two potential candidates would get his vote in the 2011 FIFA election, Beckenbauer, who describes Bin Hamman as a “great friend,” said he hadn’t decided.  “I haven’t made up my mind yet,” he said. “But I’ll tell you when I do. Maybe the two of them will find a compromise. I hope so.”

Beckenbauer was speaking at the Laureus World Sports Award, held Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.

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