Hong Kong: Acting Asian football chief Zhang Jilong, who replaced the corruption-tainted Mohamed bin Hamman last year, is keen to stay as head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), a report said on Thursday.
Bin Hamman was handed a lifetime ban from the sport last year after he was found guilty of trying to buy votes in the FIFA presidential race when he ran against the world football body's incumbent Sepp Blatter.
The Qatari has denied the charges and appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the sport's highest court, in Switzerland. China's Zhang was named acting head of the AFC pending the court decision.
Zhang however declared he was keen to stay on permanently after nearly 20 AFC officials met in a low-key meeting held at the Chinese city of Macau, according to Hong Kong-based newspaper the South China Morning Post.
"I am interested in becoming president permanently on the condition that I am recognised by all my friends and brothers on the executive committee, as well as the other 46 members' association," Zhang was quoted as saying.
"We need to be one family, as brothers, for we are on one boat sailing towards the future. If I become president permanently, I wish to work for the solidarity and development of Asian football," he added.
The AFC is legally bound to replace bin Hammam by electing a new leader if the CAS does not deliver a decision by May, according to the report, which said no date has been set for the hearing.
According to the Post, the Macau meeting was attended by the "anti-Hammam" faction within the AFC but Zhang has downplayed the meeting, saying it was merely a "gathering" of colleagues.
Zhang and AFC officials could not be immediately reached by AFP for comment.
Bin Hamman has said he would fight on to clear his name, describing the charges against him as "politically motivated". He had sought to block Zhang's appointment as the acting AFC chief but it was turned down by the CAS.
His suspension led to his withdrawal from the world football body's leadership election, handing the incumbent Blatter a fourth consecutive term in office.