The 61-year-old president of the Asian Football Confederation has hinted for months he will fight Blatter for football’s top job. -AP Photo

LONDON: Asia's football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam will canvass support in Europe before deciding whether to launch a bid to topple Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, the Qatari said on Friday.      

The 61-year-old president of the Asian Football Confederation has hinted for months he will fight powerful Swiss incumbent Blatter for football’s top job at the FIFA Congress in Zurich on May 31 and June 1 and confirmed on Friday he will make a decision before the UEFA Congress in Paris on March 20.       

By then, he says he will know if he has enough support from European countries to mount a realistic bid for the presidency.           

“I am happy with most confederations, but I don't know about Europe and how they will deal with my candidacy,” he said in a verified message sent to his Twitter and online accounts.

“Europe is the core of football. I would like now to make a real assessment in Europe. I will go to the Paris Congress of UEFA (on March 20) and I will already have declared my candidacy or otherwise.”     

The deadline for declaring his intentions is March 31, so he could canvas opinion among the chairmen of UEFA's 53 member nations in Paris and still have time to declare his candidacy after the Congress.

Bin Hammam's comments came after the English FA attempted to distance itself from comments made last week by two senior officials that the FA would back any credible candidate willing to stand against Blatter in June.     

Those comments were made to reporters at last week's International Football Association Board Meeting (IFAB) in Newport, Wales, but the FA contacted FIFA this week to clarify its position.   

The FA said in an email to FIFA's general secretary Jerome Valcke that this was not the case, emphasising that the matter had not been discussed by the FA's board.

Earlier Bin Hammam said he was encouraged by reports of the FA's stance, saying on his Twitter account: “The FA declaration is very encouraging. Now people expect me to say something.”       

Previously Bin Hammam has hinted that if he thought he lacked enough support to unseat Blatter, he would support UEFA president Michel Platini or any other candidate – although Blatter so far is the only declared runner.       

Earlier this week Bin Hammam said: “Within 10 days I will formally declare whether I will stand or not. 

“I would 100 percent support someone else. I have not spoken to Michel Platini for a long time but I told him that if he runs he'd have my full support. That remains the case.”


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