DOHA: Yousuf Al Serkal has denied allegations that the Gulf states’ football federations had plotted the overthrow of former Asian confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

The claims emerged in a television interview in the United Arab Emirates given by Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, who is president of the Olympic Council of Asia.

He claimed that the Gulf federations had approached him informally about their concerns more than three years ago. That would have been long before the FIFA presidential campaign and AFC funds scandals which ultimately overwhelmed Bin Hammam.

Last month the Qatari announced he was dropping a two-year fight to clear his name and was walking away from football after nearly a decade at the head of the AFC.

Significantly, Bin Hammam – in a rare outburst late last year – had named Kuwaiti Al Sabah as one of the senior sports powerbrokers men who had led a campaign against him.

Al Sabah had accrued further power within international sport last March when he ousted veteran Mexican Mario Vazquez Rana as president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.

Al Serkal, president now of the UAE Football Association and a vice-president of the AFC, denied both the existence of a plot and any personal involvement in comments reported by the DohaStadiumPlus.

‘Professional elements’

DSP reported Al Serkal, who noted that predecessor Mohamed Al Rumaithi led the UAE FA back then, as saying: “Nobody can forget what Bin Hammam has given to Asian football, be it the revamp of the AFC Champions League or the launch of the Goal Project.

“He brought a lot of professional elements into Asian football. I don’t believe the Gulf federations will act in any such manner.

“I wasn’t heading the UAE FA at that time but I don’t think Al Rumaithi will ever plan such a move against Bin Hammam. If at all the UAE federation has any complaints or grievances against Bin Hammam, it’s bold enough to express them and act on its own.

“There’s no need for it to seek the help of Sheikh Ahmad or any others for that matter.”

Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Thani, president of the Qatar FA – Bin Hammam’s ‘home’ association – has also dismissed talk of a plot.

Al Serkel is one of the leading candidates expected to contest the AFC presidential election later this year. Other contenders are Bahrain FA president Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and the AFC’s Chinese acting president Zhang Jilong.

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