KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammed Bin Hammam has lost the support of many member nations and a campaign is under way to oust him, according to a former official.
Peter Velappan, who served as AFC secretary-general for three decades, said Bin Hammam's "authoritarian and dictatorial" style had alienated some of the 46 members across Asia and the Middle East.
"Arab countries led by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are against him. Many Arab countries would like to see a change. There is a strong momentum to push Hammam out," he told AFP.
Velappan said that under Bin Hammam's seven-year presidency the major Asian footballing nations China, Japan and Korea had been marginalised, while the 10-nation Southeast Asian bloc had become divided.
And he said that Bahrain's Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa had a good chance of snatching Bin Hammam's seat on FIFA's executive committee when the AFC holds its congress in May.
Bin Hammam has reportedly said that the loss of his FIFA post would trigger his resignation as head of the AFC.
In recent months he has come under fire for pushing a controversial plan to shift the AFC headquarters from Malaysia, triggering criticism from figures including FIFA vice president Chung Mong-Joon of South Korea.
South Korea's football body Tuesday demanded an apology from the AFC boss, saying that in a television interview he insulted Korea Football Association (KFA) chief Cho Jung-Yeon by saying he was ready to "cut Cho's head off."
Bin Hammam has since described his quote regarding Cho as a "harmless and widely used Arabic metaphor" meaning an attempt to thwart someone's progress.
Velappan seized on the comments, saying it was not the language of a "cultured leader" and that Shaikh Salman in comparison was an "educated and cultured personality" who was well respected across the globe.
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