- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2011

LONDON (AP) - After being confirmed as the only challenger to Sepp Blatter’s 13-year rule of FIFA, Mohamed Bin Hammam said Monday that he hoped the presidential election June 1 would show the organization is not corrupt.

The Asian Football Confederation president and Blatter are embarking on a two-month showdown for the top job in world soccer after being the only candidates to be nominated last week.

Bin Hammam helped to manage the first two of Blatter’s three election victories, but the former allies have grown apart.

The cornerstone of the 61-year-old Qatari’s campaign will be transparency after FIFA was rocked by allegations of corruption during bidding for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Bin Hammam said he will write to Blatter to “let him know that I see this election as an opportunity for us to prove that FIFA is not corrupt and that the organization is open and democratic.”

“I will tell him that throughout this campaign we should respect FIFA’s Statutes and protect FIFA’s integrity by ensuring that there will be no outside interference in the attempt to win votes; the influence of third parties should not be tolerated or accepted,” Bin Hammam added on his personal website. “I am sure that Mr. Blatter will do his utmost to implement, in this campaign, FIFA’s principles pertaining to the elections.”

Bin Hammam decided to run after playing an important role in Qatar successfully winning the vote in December to host the 2022 World Cup.

The 75-year-old Blatter marked the official start of his campaign to seek a fourth and final four-year term by meeting officials at England’s Football Association on Monday.

“I started my campaign at the end of March, 1998,” Blatter said in London. “I am confident that the consolidation of football will be done over the next four years. I will come out with my manifesto soon.”

Blatter declined to elaborate while speaking to reporters at the SportAccord conference before heading to FA headquarters at Wembley Stadium.

The FA said in a statement that they discussed goal-line technology, the international soccer calendar, third-party ownership of players and the World Cup bidding process.

English soccer’s governing body was at odds with Blatter during its failed bid for the 2018 tournament. As FIFA’s executive committee prepared to vote in December, Blatter spoke of the “evil of the media” in England following investigations into corruption in the bidding process.

England received only two votes _ one from its only executive committee member _ as FIFA awarded the tournament to Russia.

FIFA has had only eight presidents in 107 years, all from European families.

“Before taking over as President of the Asian Football Confederation in 2002, competition was something that was lacking within our continent but that has now changed and it has made us stronger,” said Bin Hammam, who has served for 15 years on FIFA’s executive committee. “I hope that more people within football are encouraged by my decision to stand against the FIFA President and that they, too, will have the courage to run for office in the future.

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