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


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.