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.