Friday, May 8, 2009

Hammam has to change

Just as I predicted, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Mohamed bin Hammam Al Abdulla retained his FIFA executive committee seat by a slim margin. It's certainly difficult to dislodge the incumbent and after answering insinuations of financial irregularities and deciding to drop the idea of relocating the headquarters elsewhere, Hammam clarified on a few issues.

Typical of his modus operandi, Hammam had something up his sleeves and he only revealed it during extra-time! And he did it before football luminary and UEFA president Michel Platini and Concacaf boss Jack Warner.

1. First he socked it off to Peter Velappan by mentioning the marketing deal which came into question was sealed for 20 years in 1992 but nobody raised the issue.

2. From 1992 to 2008, Hammam revealed AFC's total income was US$150 million but the projected total budget from 2012 to 2020 would come to a tune of US$1 billion.

3. He felt offended by the interference of the Olympic movement and other parties outside the football circle which tarnished AFC's image further.

4. In a year, Hammam devotes nine months of his life in Kuala Lumpur at the expense of his business interests and family in Doha and "it is unfair to accuse me of financial mismanagement".

5. Former Malaysian Finance Minister Tun Daim Zainuddin, the AFC internal audit chairman, took the podium to lend his support to Hammam amidst insinuations that the financial statement was not properly prepared.

The fact Hammam dropped the idea of discussing the relocation of the AFC House at the last minute was smart of him, so was the move to grant Kuwait, Afghanistan, Laos and Timor Leste the right to vote. Swallowing his pride certainly was the right decision and he turned it around and said it was done in the name of fair play!

Those who were given the floor to speak against Hammam, much to his credit, were FIFA vice-president Chung Mong Joon, Japan FA general secretary Kohzo Tashima, South Korea FA general secretary Ka Sam Hyun, Olympic Council of Asia supremo Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah who is also the Kuwait FA president, while Hammam's defenders were V Manilal Fernando of Sri Lanka and Ganesh Thapa of Nepal.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter did not endorse either candidate, insisting both Hammam and Sheikh Salman are his friends. He was happy though to express special thoughts to his predecessor Joao Havelange and Hammam for both celebrated their 93rd and 60th birthdays respectively today.

Sheikh Salman's team claimed as of last night they had 27 votes in the bag but some apparently had a last-minute change of heart.

What about the two spoilt votes? Well according to sources, it was because they put the tick on Hammam's name and a cross on the box which had Sheikh Salman's name. If you go on that argument, Hammam would have garnered 25 votes in all.

Still Hammam cannot take his victory as a license to bulldozehis way through. Two years before the 2011 presidential elections, Hammam realises AFC is split into two and the superpowers appear to be against him.

He has little option but to keep his ears on the ground and initiate change for the better. Otherwise his days are numbered!

Mohamed Hammam listens intently to what Kuwait FA and OCA president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah has to say

AFC internal audit committee chief, Tun Daim Zainuddin proposes the financial report be accepted although AFC finance committee chairman, Zhang Jilong, refused to endorse it. Of course FA of Malaysia rejected the proposal but 21 countries accepted the statement

Kuwait FA president Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah's gung ho approach appealed to half of those present in the ballroom at MO. He did not hesitate to criticise Hammam upfront


Jack Stars said...

Its ironical that the two gentlemen who were very vocal in their support for Hammam were from Sri Lanka and Nepal, two countries where football hasnt really developed over the last twenty five years.

On the other side of the fence is Japan, China, Korea and the likes where football has really developed and most importantly, without these countries in the AFC mix, would AFC actually get the kind of money they get from the huge marketing and TV deals World Sports Group brings them? Quite certainly no. So now, here is the conundrum that remains to be solved. Will these countries now choose to exit from the AFC until Hammam's exit? This may not be a totally surprising move for it is not conceivable that Hammam will find peace with MJ. To be fair from the time MJ was ignored at the AFC Awards Ceremony in 2007 (Sydney) and long before that, Hammam has never found the dynamic MJ to be even an equal for him.

To MJ's credit, he has remained above everything and calm.

Today the galvanised forces of which make the superpowers of Asian football (think TV and marketing money driving nations like Japan and Korea and China) who have genuinely helped several countries on their own without the impetus of AFC, must decide if they want to remain part of a group which is clearly split in the middle.

The AFC is no longer what it used to be. That is a fact. To believe that Hammam will need to change and will indeed do so is like hoping that the Leopard will lose its spots in the coming years.

The only way Asian football will rise and rise again is when the house of Asian football gets united. For that to happen, Mohamed Bin Hammam needs to go. What will need to happen for that change to come along, I am not certain but the wheels are in motion.

To the cronies of Hammam, one can only have much sympathy for. The landscape of Asian football clearly sees that many of the nations that support Hammam do not even have proper professionals in charge at the respective federations. So what is the purpose of the fogeys who run these federations to support Hammam. Not too difficult to guess I suppose.

I am confident in saying that Hammam may have won the battle but he WILL lose the war that is ahead of him.

rizal hashim said...

jack stars, thanks for the insightful comment.

Anonymous said...

May the New President of AFC start training now.

For the Game. For the World.

Jack Stars said...

As the days start to roll on after the darkest days yet in the history of Asian Football Confederation history, I am piqued by the comments that Hammam makes that shrugs aside or perhaps begs for the need for him to change his ways. His administration at the highest body of football in Asia has been poor to say the least and as a new dawn was about to rise, the man entrusted to lead once more albeit in partisan says he has no change to make.

Peace, he says he will seek with with his counterparts on the other side of the fence.

The stutters are already in the hallway and the walk will be a long one to achieve his "Peace" objectives for he isnt sincere as has been heard from reliable sources.

The only solution to educate this man who has attempted to divide Asian football is for Japan and South Korea to lead an exit from this group and see how long and how far its possible for AFC to succeed whether commercially or technically.

As long as he is in power, football in Asia shall see no respite for the good of the game.

shah said...

It must be really interesting for the press to run through during the build-up for the AFC Congress. PC after PC, statements, allegations and personal attacks were directed to Mohamed bin Hammam (MBH). It was a well-coordinated effort by the Sheikh Salman's camp to blow things up and reduced MBH capabilities and reputations towards May 8. Wish I was there to witness all the fanfare.

I wonder what's left. Now, the Korean tycoon Dr. Chung position is unattainable. I am afraid MJ will be pushed to the side or sidelined in the AFC Exco or perhaps suffer the same fate as Asad Taqi of Kuwait many years ago. We have to remember the current Exco is the proxy for MBH to pursue his desire to safeguard his position and plans to become the next FIFA President.

As we predicted, it is not easy to bring down MBH. He is a smart person. He plays his cards very well and he knows how to push his agenda. It is an open secret MBH has a hidden remote control over the allocation of AFC funds which include grassroot development fund, competitions and technical assistance to several third world countries.

The commercial gains especially from the AFC Champions League and few other AFC competitions are testament to MBH shrewd management. He worked hard after rounds of negotiation with World Sport Group (WSG), formerly AFC marketing arm to generate lucrative income for the current commercial cycle and for at least next 14 years. And where all this money will be heading or channel to in the future? We cannot assume and put in the details since we are just Asian football observers. Nonetheless, if it is accessible to the stakeholders, one only need to see the AFC Finance and Marketing Committee report and/or minutes of meeting for the past five years. Of course the document is not for disclosure purpose but there lies the fact. I hope it is not too late then to know the real truth.

Let us hope as well the forming of an Audit committee recently was not merely a sideshow of so-called corporate governance.

Sheikh Salman did look appealing to most national associations across Asia. However, he didn't lay out or highlights what are exactly his plans for Asia. In any election, be it an election for parliament or vying for a seat in school board, a candidate should at least list out his vision and planning to attract the attention from the voters. What we saw was only focusing on personality issue. Yes, there is abuse of power or authoritarian style adopted by MBH especially from the President's office at the third floor of AFC House. However, we didn't get to see any hard facts coming from the opposition camp about MBH punches and hard hitting approach. The truth was that Dato' Peter Velappan and Dato' Paul Mony couldn't cope with MBH's authoritarian style. MBH is not your typical President of a football governing body. He utilizes the power of an Executuve very well. MBH thinks he is a leader of an entity which is equivalent to the status of a nation. Both former General Secretaries were merely football administrators and high-level big brother political game definitely floored them.

From my personal point of view as a Malaysian, MBH is a smart man indeed. An authoritarian knows how to survive during a storm. He knows what he wants. He wants recognition for himself.

MBH knew our Prime Minister is a football fan and he waited until the last drop (before AFC Congress) to seek an audience with the Premier. We have to remember that to seek a meeting with a Prime Minister in any country, the person has to book PM's diary weeks or months ahead. Here lies the question; why seek a meeting with Najib on the eve of d-day? Perhaps the answer is, so that he can announce to the footballing world and to the press about his 'good intention' to call-off the relocation of AFC House. By announcing his decision to remove the relocation agenda just before the vote, that got people thinking! I wish I was a fly on the wall during MBH meeting with Najib. I am convinced that Najib didn't promise to MBH to fulfil his demands while assuring MBH of government's diplomacy and consideration to look into his wish-list.

Asian football is exciting and full of prospects. For a start, I wish for a repeat or a better showing than World Cup 2002 performance by the Asian teams in next year edition. Secondly, I want to see due recognition by AFC is being accorded to Asian players plying their trade in European leagues. Thirdly, it is time for AFC to get really serious with top European clubs coming to Asia for their summer tour. These clubs or mercenaries are here for few days solely for their branding, marketing and merchandise exercise. I know for a fact Peter Kenyon is a good friend with MBH and AFC marketing people.

Well, I have own wish list for Asian football. Aren't we all?

Lastly, I was disappointed thou' to hear there was no report on shoes throwing incident at the congress...hehe..just kidding.


rizal hashim said...

Thanks Shahrim, well said.

Anonymous said...

This would mean that the CEO/Chairman and the Board of WSG World Sport Group will appoint the next FIFA President instead of all FIFA affiliates voting.

For the World. For the Game.