Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Zhang says AFC needs to "clean up and unite"

Zhang Jilong and the suspended Mohamed Bin Hammam
By Zhang Bin - AFF Chinese Correspondent
The acting President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), Zhang Jilong, said the AFC needs to “clean up and unite” during an interview with China’s Sina Sport.
Zhang, the AFC's most senior Vice President, automatically takes charge in Mohamed Bin Hammam’s absence.
Earlier this year he ran for a seat on FIFA’s Executive Committee but lost in a vote at January's AFC Congress in Doha. He was a key member of the 2008 Beijing Olympics organising committee and is also chairman of the OCA's (Olympic Council of Asia) powerful Sports Committee and Director of the China International Sports Exchange Centre.
Chinese media have, in the past, given him the names "Hand of God" and "Brother Dragon" for allegedly convincing FIFA to change its rules for the 2002 World Cup qualifiers for the Asian zone, effectively putting China in an easier qualifying group which saw them qualify for their only World Cup.
Zhang is known to have a good relationship with former AFC secretary general Peter Velappan, who is a well-known opponent of Bin Hammam. Velappan expressed that the suspension of Bin Hammam and appointment of Zhang was "…the best thing for Asian football" in a recent interview with AFP.
Zhang told Sina Sports: “First, the environment of AFC needs a clean-up and some disharmonious factors need to be erased.
“The work of the AFC and its secretariat is to improve and strengthen. The AFC in the future will really build up the relationships with its 46 members' associations. Communicate, build up firm relations, find one voice and unite.”
Regarding the suspension of Bin Hammam, Zhang said: “"Scandals such as bin Hammam's bribery allegations harm the sport's beauty. Anyone who does not show transparency should pay for it.”

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