Acting Asia football boss says ‘revolution’ needed

The acting head of the Asian Football Confederation said
Thursday that management of the game in Asia needs a
”revolution,” a thinly veiled criticism of the leadership of
suspended AFC head Mohamed bin Hammam.

Zhang Jilong, who is standing in for bin Hammam while FIFA
investigates bribery allegations against the Qatari, told Chinese
state broadcaster CCTV that the Asian football environment was
”not that healthy.”

Speaking in English, Zhang said: ”So we need, let’s say,
revolution, we need reform to make more clear and more fair play
the environment in Asian football areas.”

Asked what he hoped to achieve as acting president, Zhang
responded: ”do good for Asian football, do good for Chinese
football, do good for your own.” The duties of leading the AFC
require a strong sense of responsibility, he said.

Bin Hammam was suspended on Sunday along with FIFA colleague
Jack Warner while FIFA investigates whether they bribed Caribbean
voters during bin Hammam’s abandoned presidential campaign.

Sepp Blatter – the only remaining candidate – was re-elected
president at FIFA’s Congress on Wednesday despite allegations of
mismanagement and corruption within world football’s governing
body.

Zhang, 59, has proven himself an astute political player within
world football. Chinese media have dubbed him ”Hand of God” and
”Brother Dragon” for allegedly persuading FIFA to change its
rules for Asian zone qualifiers, effectively putting China in an
easier group to qualify for the 2002 tournament – its only World
Cup appearance to date.

Zhang is the AFC’s most senior vice president but lost in his
bid earlier this year for a seat on FIFA’s executive committee
earlier this year. He also served on the 2008 Beijing Olympics
organizing committee.