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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bin Hammam may cut deal with Platini

PARIS (AP) Mohamed bin Hammam is prepared to strike a deal with UEFA leader Michel Platini for European support to help him oust Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.

Bin Hammam, the Asian Football Confederation President, likely needs strong backing from Europe's 53 soccer nations to help end Blatter's 13-year reign.

The Qatari challenger hinted at his strategic options when asked by reporters if he might address Platini's own ambitions to be FIFA president in 2015 by agreeing to serve just a single four-year term in soccer's most powerful job.

"I am not going to lie to you and say that I am not going to talk to Michel about possible cooperation in the future, this has to be put frankly," bin Hammam said. "I'm not telling you I am not going to do it, but let's wait and see."

Bin Hammam is attending Tuesday's UEFA Congress to lobby European federation presidents for their vote on June 1 in Zurich.

The two-day gathering of world soccer power brokers in Paris is bin Hammam's first opportunity to build on his declaration last Friday to challenge Blatter, his former ally who also is attending and will make a speech on Tuesday.

Bin Hammam has promised greater transparency, sharing FIFA's centralized decision-making power with its six confederations and doubling annual grants for its 208 national members to $500,000.

He assured FIFA of its first election contest for nine years, after Blatter was returned unopposed in 2007.

Bin Hammam said he did not regret campaigning for Blatter's two election victories but "now things are different" for the 75-year-old Swiss official, who joined FIFA 36 years ago.

"When Mr. Blatter first stood for election in 1998 he asked for two mandates, for eight years, which is very well recorded," said bin Hammam. "There's no guarantee that if Blatter wins another term it will be his last four years."

Bin Hammam said, at age 61, his time had come to contribute more to FIFA and world soccer.

"If we're not given the chance today, then when?" Bin Hammam asked. "Mr. Platini is maybe opposing me as he has the ambition to be president in 2015, but I have the ambition to be president in 2011."

Holden sidelined

BOLTON , England (AP) American midfielder Stuart Holden will miss June's CONCACAF Gold Cup because of a knee injury that will require surgery and sideline him six months.

Holden hurt his left knee in Bolton's 1-0 defeat at Manchester United on Saturday in the Premier League. United defender Jonny Evans drew a red card for the tackle.

Holden said he was traveling to London on Monday for surgery, adding that Evans called him to apologize.

"Just had a sincere phone call from Jonny Evans wishing me the best in my recovery, (definitely) wasn't intentional, just unfortunate part of the game," Holden said on Twitter.

The U.S. Soccer Federation said Sunday an X-ray revealed no broken bones, but Holden needed 26 stitches to close a gash near his knee. Bolton said it did not have any more details on the injury.

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