KUALA LUMPUR: Asia’s football body said on Thursday it would elect a new leader in May, hoping to move past nearly two years of turmoil over allegations of bribery and other misdeeds by ex-chief Mohamed Bin Hammam.
The Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) caretaker leader Zhang Jilong said in a statement the regional governing body would hold a congress in Kuala Lumpur, where it is based, on May 2 to choose a president.
Hammam, 63, was accused of trying to buy votes in FIFA’s 2011 presidential vote as he launched a leadership challenge against Sepp Blatter, the powerful boss of the world governing body, and was banned from football.
The Qatari businessman formally resigned as AFC leader in December, shortly after FIFA’s ethics committee launched a new probe into corruption claims against him.
Zhang, from China, is considered the front-runner to be named head of the AFC. He said nominations would close on March 3.
“We will have to work towards making the year 2013 memorable for Asian football,” Zhang said.
Hammam, who first took over in 2002, was already in his third and final permissible term as AFC president. He remains temporarily suspended from football despite having a FIFA life ban overturned last year and has so far failed to clear his name.
The AFC also said last year it was probing possible corrupt practices by Hammam as AFC chief.
Hammam has denied wrongdoing in the FIFA presidential challenge, saying cash handouts he made during the election were merely gifts.
He describes the charges and his punishment by FIFA as politically motivated. Once close to Blatter, the two later became estranged.
Hammam was seen as a moderniser of Asian football after overseeing the launch of the AFC Champions League and the admission of Australia into the regional body. But he also raised hackles with his leadership style.