Hammam was addressing the SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Executive Committee meeting, which took place here in the Sri Lankan capital on the sidelines of the AFC Challenge Cup, in Colombo last weekend.
Also present at the meeting were FIFA Executive Member Dato Worawi Makudi, AFC and SAFF Vice-President Manilal Fernando, and Presidents of the South Asian football federations.
“This is an acknowledgement of the important role the SAFF and other regional federations play in developing football,” said the AFC President. “AFC can contribute financially to the regional federations.
“By sharing the expenses AFC can ensure a professional set-up. Our financial support will contribute towards the recruitment of coaches, referees, grassroots and other professional staff.”
Hammam said he was impressed with SAFF’s efforts to develop the sport in the region, adding that member countries like India had one of the oldest traditions of football in the world.
The AFC President also hailed the SAFF Executive Committee’s decision to introduce more competitions across all age groups.
“The proposed SAFF Clubs Championship is another important development and will further develop football,” said Bin Hammam. “This is the correct way forward.
“There is great potential in this region as you have a population of nearly 1.6 billion people. You have thriving economies, the required talent and power to create strong football.”
Earlier, SAFF President Kazi Salahuddin said the SAFF countries would work hard to improve their football and shed their “weakest link” image.
“There is no reason our football cannot be on top of Asia. We have the talent and determination to achieve that.”
Some of the important points of discussion in the meeting were: a competitions calendar for 2010 and 2011, the SAFF Statutes, the setting-up of Standing Committees, and the introduction of the SAFF Clubs Championship.