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Apr 23, 2009

Blatter asked to intervene 'urgently' in AFC row

Blatter asked to intervene 'urgently' in AFC row

SINGAPORE (AFP) — Five Asian football associations have called on FIFA president Sepp Blatter to "urgently" intervene and supervise what they claim will be an undemocratic AFC Congress next month.

A letter outlining their concerns, including allegations of "threats expressed against some of us," has been signed by senior officials from the FAs of Kuwait, Laos, East Timor, Afghanistan and Mongolia and sent to Blatter.

All five associations have been banned from voting in the Congress which will see AFC president Mohamed bin Hammam challenged by Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa for a seat on FIFA's executive committee.

Both men claim to have the numbers to win the increasingly bitter battle but with a two-thirds majority required, the five votes could be crucial.

"We are writing to you because we need, urgently and crucially, your support and guidance," said the letter, obtained by AFP.

"In recent days we have received letters from AFC's acting secretary general that are totally against the FIFA and AFC Statutes.

"On the basis of such information and of the threats expressed against some of us, we have reason to believe that there is a serious risk that the AFC Congress will not be held in a democratic way..."

It called for FIFA to "monitor and supervise the process of the Congress and election operations".

"As FIFA members, we therefore respectfully request FIFA take steps to ensure that the AFC Congress is conducted... with complete fairness and integrity."

Four of the associations -- Laos, East Timor, Afghanistan and Mongolia -- have been told they cannot vote because they have not participated in at least three AFC competitions in the past two years.

As for Kuwait, they have been informed by the AFC that it does not recognise the temporary committee that is currently running its football affairs.

The letter to Blatter comes as the heat intensifies ahead of the Congress, with the Olympic Council of Asia this week denying it was involved in "vote-buying" to influence the outcome of the elections.

The previous week, South Korea's football association filed a complaint with FIFA's ethics committee against Bin Hammam, accusing him of "groundless, bitter accusations."

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