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By ESPN Staff

Beckenbauer fears for FIFA unity

Franz Beckenbauer has warned that the FIFA presidential election battle could split the world governing body apart.

Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam has confirmed he will stand against Sepp Blatter - and that he will offer national associations significant financial incentives to support his challenge.

Beckenbauer, who is stepping down as a FIFA executive member in June, believes the 61-year-old Qatari will find it tough against the veteran Blatter.

He said: ''I think this is a dangerous situation because it could split FIFA into two camps. One of its strengths has been its unity. It would be sad if that were to happen.

''I think it will be difficult for Bin Hammam. Blatter knows FIFA inside out and he has done a very good job until now.''

Bin Hammam revealed he will double the financial support handed out to each of FIFA's 208 member associations to 500,000 US dollars. He also announced plans to create 17 more executive committee positions on a new 41-strong 'FIFA board' - currently each member receives 100,000 US dollars a year plus handsome expenses.

Bin Hammam, once a loyal Blatter ally, told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur: ''I believe my chances are 50-50. Sepp Blatter is an experienced person, he has made significant contribution to football worldwide but I believe there is a time limit for everything. There is now a time for a new face and a new heir.''

Blatter has not had a challenger since 2002 when he beat Cameroon's Issa Hayatou in a landslide victory by 139 votes to 56.

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