HONG KONG: Acting Asian football chief Zhang Jilong, who replaced the disgraced Mohamed Bin Hamman last year, is keen to stay as head of the Asian Football Confederation.
Bin Hamman was banned for life last year after being found guilty over bribery allegations concerning a conference of the Caribbean Football Union last May when he bidding to oust Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA.
The Qatari has denied the charges and while he appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport China’s Zhang was appointed acting head of the AFC.
Initially Zhang appeared reticent to consider anything more than an interim role. Now, however, he has said he is keen to stay on permanently. His change of heart emerged after 20 AFC officials met informally in Macau, according to the South China Morning Post.
“I am interested in becoming president permanently on the condition that I am recognised by all my friends and brothers on the executive committee, as well as the other 46 members’ association,” Zhang was quoted as saying.
“We need to be one family, as brothers, for we are on one boat sailing towards the future. If I become president permanently, I wish to work for the solidarity and development of Asian football.”
The AFC is legally bound to replace bin Hammam by electing a new leader if the CAS does not deliver a decision by May, according to the report, which said no date has been set for the hearing.
According to the Post, the Macau meeting was attended by the “anti-Hammam” faction within the AFC but Zhang has downplayed the meeting, saying it was merely a “gathering” of colleagues.
Bin Hamman has sought, through CAS, to block Zhang’s appointment as the acting AFC chief.