- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) - South Korea’s soccer association said Wednesday it has formally referred Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed bin Hammam to FIFA’s ethics and disciplinary committees over perceived threatening remarks against a top South Korean soccer official.

Bin Hammam used a phrase during a Qatari television interview in February that could be translated as threatening to cut off the head of Korean Football Association chief Cho Chung-yeon, although he did not mention names.

Bin Hammam also claimed during the interview that Korean influences were behind the challenge to his FIFA executive committee position by Bahrain soccer chief Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Khalifa.

The AFC chief later told The Associated Press his comments had been misinterpreted, saying he used “a popular, harmless and widely used Arabic metaphor” and comparing it with the English expression ‘heads will roll.’

But the KFA said the explanation was unsatisfactory and his “groundless allegations have insulted the association.”

“It is not desirable for the AFC president to fuel discord and confrontation among member countries rather than working toward harmony and unity among member nations,” KFA spokesman Yoo Young-cheol said. “That’s a violation of FIFA ethics rules.”

FIFA vice president Chung Mong-joon had forecast the official complaint about Bin Hammam to the sport’s world governing body earlier in the month.

KFA said in a statement Wednesday that one of its officials visited FIFA headquarters in Switzerland to file its complaint with the ethics and disciplinary committees.

Chung, honorary president of the KFA, and Bin Hammam are at odds over a recent proposal by Bin Hammam that the holder of the AFC presidency also be appointed as a FIFA vice president, while other regional appointees would rank below that.

Bin Hammam has been president of the AFC since 2002, with his term to extend to 2011. His position on the FIFA executive committee will be decided by a vote at AFC meetings on May 8. He has said that if he loses to Shaikh Salman in that vote, he also will quit as AFC president.

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