Friday, April 20, 2007

Hammam admits problems with 4 Asian Cup hosts

The President of the Asian Football Confederation has again admitted that his organisation had made a mistake be allowing four countries to host this year`s Asian Cup. "With four countries this is a problem," Mohamed bin Hammam told Reuters. "It involves a lot of marketing and a lot of energy. You get something from one government, but not another. Most of them are amateurs hardly committed to their associations, maybe just an hour a day. We have to have commitment. If one country fulfils its obligation and another one doesn`t, this is no good to us."

The 7-29 July Asian Cup will be shared by Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Thailand almost lost its hosting rights after repeatedly failing to meet deadlines for upgrading stadiums while Malaysia was told to focus its attention on the Asian Cup rather than a visit by English club Manchester United in July.

Hammam said the decision to award four countries the tournament was intended to give more fans the chance to see Asia`s best teams in action. "In the beginning of our term we were idealistic," he said. "We wanted to give everyone a chance to host this event and give people the chance to enjoy the tournament. One country is more appropriate in terms of logistics. Dealing with one national association and one government, it`s like dealing with one mind."

Hammam said the body would also review its decision to rotate the tournament between four zones in Asia, namely West Asia, Central and South Asia, East Asia and ASEAN. Candidates to stage the 2011 competition are currently restricted to West Asia or Central/South Asia, which has prevented newcomers Australia from bidding. India, Qatar and Iran have so far submitted formal applications and the AFC is set to name the 2011 host country on 28 July, the day before this year`s final in Jakarta.

"We started to have the competition on a rotational basis but this won`t help the real competition," he said. "This means only a few countries will be interested in being hosts. So far, I have received support for an amendment to have only two zones, but they (executive committee members) are prepared to open up the bidding to (countries from) all the zones."

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