Football: Thai, Bahraini FA chiefs seek AFC leadership

The heads of the Thai and Bahraini football associations have emerged as contenders to lead the Asian governing body as the region seeks to replace scandal-hit ex-chief Mohamed bin Hammam.

The ASEAN Football Federation released a statement late Monday throwing its support behind Thai football boss Worawi Makudi to take over the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

ASEAN stands for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa has also confirmed his intention to stand, World Football Insider reported on its website.

The 46-member AFC will elect a new leader in May, hoping to move past nearly two years of turmoil over allegations of wrongdoing including bribery by bin Hammam. The Qatari denies the allegations.

It is currently headed by caretaker leader Zhang Jilong of China, who is considered the front-runner to win the post.

Worawi did not answer calls from AFP seeking comment. An AFC spokesman said the organisation could not publicly confirm candidates until after the March 3 nomination deadline.

The AFC, the largest of six federations that make up football's world governing body FIFA, will hold a congress to select the new leadership at its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on May 2.

World Football Insider had previously reported that Yousuf al-Serkal, the head of the United Arab Emirates FA, had thrown his hat into the ring.

Bin Hammam, 63, was accused of trying to buy votes in FIFA's 2011 presidential vote as he challenged the powerful Sepp Blatter to lead the global body, and was banned from football.

The businessman formally resigned as AFC leader in December, shortly after FIFA's ethics committee launched a new probe into corruption claims against him.

Bin Hammam, who first took over in 2002, remains suspended from football despite having the FIFA life ban overturned last year.

The AFC also said last year it was probing alleged corruption by bin Hammam when he was its chief.

Bin Hammam has denied wrongdoing in the FIFA presidential challenge and claims to be the victim of a politically motivated campaign to ruin him. He was once close to Blatter but the two later became estranged.