The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports


Fifa needs new blood, says Bin Hammam

Posted: 01 May 2011 08:45 PM PDT

File photo of bin Hammam at a news conference at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on March 18, 2011. — Reuters pic

ASUNCION, May 2 — Fifa must be kept on its toes and needs new blood, Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam said yesterday as he took his campaign for the presidency of football's governing body to South America.

Challenger Bin Hammam and incumbent Sepp Blatter, who is running for a fourth term as Fifa president, were guests at the congress of the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) yesterday where both sat at the top table.

Both men were also present at an asado — South American barbecue — at the ranch of Conmebol president Nicolas Leoz on Saturday.

"Let there be a competition, let there be a decision by the (Fifa) congress. Things are on the table, (let's) keep things dynamic and keep the congress always deciding where they are going to go," Bin Hammam told Reuters.

"I think a new vision, a new opening, new blood, the competition in itself is what we are requiring, not change," added the 61-year-old head of the Asian Football Confederation who faces Blatter in the Fifa election in Zurich on June 1.

Conmebol, which has staunchly supported Blatter since he took office in 1998, confirmed on Friday that it would back him again on June 1.

Yesterday's congress began with a speech by Blatter before 82-year-old Leoz was re-elected for a sixth term as Conmebol president, 25 years to the day after the Paraguayan first took over as head of South American football's governing body.

"I would like to thank you for the faith you have expressed in Fifa," said Blatter in his address

"I am very happy and honoured with your decision and I accept it gladly ... to continue playing together on the same pitch."

Conmebol holds 10 of the 208 votes at the Fifa congress.

Bin Hammam addressed the meeting later and quoted from a letter sent to him many years ago by former Fifa president Joao Havelange in which the Brazilian called him a friend and brother.

"In the course of my 24 years' presidency of Fifa I have made many friends but none can compare with your support... You have not only been friend but a brother," Bin Hammam quoted Havelange as having written.

Bin Hammam added: "If I was able to be friend and brother of Havelange, I can be same with you."

However, applause from the floor was only lukewarm.

Asked by Reuters about the reception, Bin Hammam said: "You'll have to ask them why. I have submitted my request to be a friend, there's nothing wrong with that."

Blatter believes he has about 50 per cent support from Africa and Asia and a majority in the rest of the world.

Bin Hammam says the issue is not settled.

"I have to (campaign), frankly speaking, and I've said this before, when we first decided to go ahead, we knew where we are strong and where we are weak, and so far I believe none of the decisions has been taken left or right," he said.

"I will not say where my strength is and where my weaknesses are going to be from but I believe that for the election I have time (to garner more support)." — Reuters

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Former heavyweight champ Henry Cooper dies at 76

Posted: 01 May 2011 07:11 PM PDT

Former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali (left) winces as his challenger, Henry Cooper, pretends to land a left hand punch to his jaw in London June 2, 1992. — Reuters pic

LONDON, May 2 — Former British and European heavyweight boxing champion Henry Cooper, one of the most popular sportsmen, has died at the age of 76, the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) said yesterday.

Cooper had been ill for some time and died at his son's house in Surrey two days short of his 77th birthday.

London-born Cooper was at his peak during the 1960s and is best remembered for a defeat by Cassius Clay, later Muhammad Ali, in a non-title fight at Wembley in 1963.

He famously sent Clay to the canvas near the end of the fourth round with his trademark left hook, known as "'Enry's 'Ammer," only for the American to earn more recovery time when trainer Angelo Dundee said Clay's glove was split. The incident is still a favourite topic of discussion for boxing fans to this day.

Cooper lost when the referee stopped the fight because of his cuts in the fifth round and he lost to Clay again in a world title fight at Arsenal's Highbury Stadium in London in 1966, again when cuts forced the referee to step in.

"He was one of the sporting icons, not just for the boxing public but sport in general," BBBC general secretary Robert Smith told Sky Sports News.

"Ali is possibly the greatest athlete there's ever been and Henry put up a great performance and just wasn't quite good enough on both occasions — but he's not the only one who wasn't good enough to beat Ali.

"For such a small man, he put up some great performances in a world-class context."

"Everyone called him 'Our Enry' and he was much loved. He served boxing wonderfully."

Britain's current World Boxing Association world heavyweight champion David Haye wrote on Twitter that Cooper was "a true warrior and a great human being."

AMATEUR CAREER

After an amateur career that included an appearance in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, Henry and his twin brother George, who died last year, both turned professional in 1954.

He lost to Sweden's former world champion Ingemar Johansson in a European title fight and many of his early defeats were brought about by his susceptibility to cuts.

His two fights against Ali raised his profile, along with another defeat by former world champion Floyd Patterson in 1966, but Cooper's position in the heart of British sports fans was out of all proportion to his success in the ring.

His 55-fight professional career featured 14 defeats, he was never a world champion and retired in 1971 after another defeat, a somewhat controversial points verdict, by fellow Briton Joe Bugner.

However, Cooper's bravery and down-to-earth, avuncular personality ensured massive popularity during his boxing career and then as a TV pundit and commentator, game show panellist, after-dinner speaker and tireless charity fundraiser.

Twice voted British sports personality of the year, he was awarded an OBE in 1969 and knighted in 2000. — Reuters 

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