Platini Concerned Over Potential Asian Walkout at FIFA Congress

May 31, 2011

UEFA president Michel Platini has admitted concern that representatives of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will walk out of the FIFA Congress tomorrow, June 1, as a show of disapproval over the temporary suspension of AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam.

The Qatari was barred from all soccer activity by the FIFA ethics committee on Sunday, May 29, over allegations of colluding at bribery in the presidential election race to challenge incumbent president Sepp Blatter. China’s Zhang Jilong has taken over as acting leader of the AFC.

Frenchman Platini,who is also a vice-president of FIFA, had warned his own members at a private UEFA meeting on Monday, May 30, of the chance of an Asian walkout after a similar demonstration of discontent by the Asians took place at the 1999 Congress in a row over the number of places allocated to the AFC at the World Cup finals.

Platini said: “In 1999 Asia left, I don’t know if they will do that again. I think the election will go ahead but I don’t know.”

The AFC had been due to hold its own private meeting today, May 31, which was cancelled on the grounds that the only agenda item had been address by Bin Hammam.

The AFC issued a short statement late Monday, confirming Zhang Jilong’s interim role and saying: “We, the members of the AFC executive committee, express our deepest concern at the latest developments within FIFA and that involves the AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam.

“We will be following the investigation as it takes its course. We hope the outcome of the investigation will be in the best interests of football in Asia and beyond . . . The AFC will continue its work in promoting and further developing Asian football in the spirit of Asian unity and solidarity.”