Angry Korean FA Demand Apology From Asian Chief Bin Hamman

The Korean Football Association (KFA) have demanded an official apology from the head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Mohammed Bin Hamman following comments he made in a television interview last week.
Bin Hammam is seeking re-election to FIFA’s executive committee but is facing a challenge from Bahrain football boss Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

The Qatari talked of the Koreans leading a plot to ensure that he lost his seat on the committee.

"Some people have launched a campaign against me, maybe they don't like me, a man from the desert being at the helm," Bin Hammam told Qatari television station Al Kass.

"Shaikh Salman is not doing this on his own, he is doing this at the instruction of others, especially people in the (South) Korean federation," he said.

After the interview, Bin Hamman sought to play down comments that he had threatened to “cut off the head” of new KFA chief Cho Chung-yun.

"It is a popular, harmless and widely used Arabic metaphor," Bin Hammam said. "It means to halt someone's plans or nip in the bud someone's progress."

This wasn’t good enough for the KFA.

“We strongly denounce what President Bin Hamman said,” KFA spokesperson Yoo Yong-chol said according to Yonhap.

“ The AFC chief should be a unifying figure but instead he is creating conflict. Bin Hamman needs to give an explanation about what he said and issue a public apology. We have informed the AFC that this is our position," added Yoo.

Bahrain football officials were also put out.

"Bin Hammam's comments were way out of line," a high-ranking official, who requested anonymity, told the Gulf Daily News.

"They are not something a gentleman, especially someone of his high standing, should be saying in public.

"His accusations of Bahrain accepting funding for Shaikh Salman's candidacy are also completely not true. Our campaign has not even started yet, so how can something be funded that's not even there?

"Bin Hammam also should not be attacking these countries which are football leaders in the continent. Their officials have a right to their own opinion, and if they believe in Shaikh Salman and support his candidacy, then he must respect that and allow the countries to vote, whether they are opposing or backing him."   

John Duerden

Asia Editor