FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Al Hussein has expressed concern over a drawn out dispute involving Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed bin Hammam, who has urged Asian members for patience while he appeals a life ban for bribery.
China's Zhang Jilong has been interim AFC president since bin Hammam was suspended last month. Bin Hammam, who helped his native Qatar win the right to host the 2022 World Cup, has stated he has no intention of quitting as AFC president and will appeal his ban to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The AFC executive committee will meet Friday and Jordan's Prince Ali, who has ruled out standing for the AFC presidency, said that while bin Hammam has the right to appeal, the process of replacing him should not be allowed to drag on
"Mr. bin Hammam has the right to appeal and that is his own personal decision and we respect that," Prince Ali told The Associated Press in an email. "However, it would be unacceptable for anyone to try and drag AFC and Asian football into any process through irresponsible action. I certainly will not accept that."
Bin Hammam denies giving cash to Caribbean officials in exchange for supporting his bid to become FIFA president and contends that the allegations were made because he was a threat to FIFA president Sepp Blatter's re-election to football's highest job.
On AFC-headed paper, bin Hammam wrote to Asian members on Monday urging their support during his appeal and anticipated delays before he can present his case.
Prince Ali's view was echoed by Japan Football Association president Junji Ogura, who said earlier Tuesday that bin Hammam "has been banned for life so I think an election needs to be held."
"He doesn't think he has done anything wrong and said he has no intention of quitting as AFC President and FIFA executive," Ogura said, referring to a letter he received from bin Hammam.
Zhang responded to the FIFA decision at the weekend by issuing a statement saying it was a "sad day for the AFC and Asian football."
"AFC respects FIFA's decision and we also acknowledge former AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam's inalienable right to lodge an appeal against the decision."
Requests for interviews with Zhang and AFC executive members have been repeatedly declined by the AFC, which says the outcome of Friday's meeting will be announced in a statement and no members will be available for comment.
Prince Ali said he didn't think the bin Hammam affair would damage the reputation of Middle East football, which was on an upswing after Qatar was last year awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
"Football in the Middle East is advancing step by step and we all must continue to focus on developing the game in the best interest of the players and the fans," he said.
"I have great faith in my colleagues in west Asia and across the continent and I am confident that we will work hand in hand and in all transparency," Prince Ali told the AP by Email. "That is the work ethic that we aspire to. At the same time, we have to be vigilant and address any misconduct."
Prince Ali said that the ideal choice for the next AFC president would be someone who "runs on a clear platform, who explains himself and his vision and presents a program on how he sees the future of AFC, rather than running on a political platform or based on geography."
"Bearing in mind that this is about Asian football and not about one individual — that is why I have faith in all football leaders in AFC to work together and move forward in the best interest of the game," he said.
Prince Ali did not suggest a possible replacement for bin Hammam, with his spokeswoman saying it is premature since there are no official candidates yet.
Bin Hammam, a 15-year veteran of the FIFA executive committee, is the most senior football official convicted of corruption in its 107-year history.