CAPE TOWN - Namibian judge Petrus Damaseb
will bring a keen legal mind and a fanatical interest in
football to his role at the weekend in presiding over the latest
crisis at FIFA, according to close colleagues.
The 48-year-old president of his country's High Court will
chair FIFA's Ethics Committee's hearing on Sunday into
allegations against Mohamed Bin Hammam, who is due to challenge
Sepp Blatter for FIFA's presidency on Wednesday, and fellow
FIFA Executive Committee member and CONCACAF president Jack Warner.
As deputy chairman of the Ethics Committee he will take
charge of the hearing because Swiss chairman Claudio Sulser has
excused himself on the grounds he shares Swiss nationality with
Damaseb, who served for six years as president of Namibia's
football association, will hear submissions from FIFA Executive
Committee member Chuck Blazer, the general secretary of
CONCACAF, who has reported his regional president Warner and Bin
Hammam over possible breaches of FIFA's code of ethics at a
meeting in the West Indies earlier this month.
The outcome of the hearing will have a huge bearing on the
62-year-old Qatari's efforts to unseat current FIFA president
Blatter in the election on June 1 and has been described as the
start of a "civil war" within world football's governing body.
"If there is any man who can deal with this matter with a
firm hand and in a honest fashion then it is Damaseb," said
Namibian FA general secretary Barry Rukoro on Wednesday.
"He has been in this kind of situation before when he
oversaw the battle for succession of the governing Swapo party
in Namibia and he handled a potentially contentious and
controversial situation between powerful politicians with a
Damaseb, who played at one of Namibia's top clubs Chiefs
Santos, studied at Warwick University in England on a United
Nations scholarship after fleeing his country as a teenager to
join its struggle for independence from South Africa.
After 1990 he returned to work in the new Namibian
government before going into private practice and then being
named a judge of the high court in 2004.
"The changes he has made to the structures of the high court
have all been for the good and he enjoys wide respect for his
work," said Natasha Bassingthwaighte, chairman of the Law
Society of Namibia.
Damaseb is also on the appeal board of the Confederation of
"He is no longer that involved in local football anymore but
we still see him at our games. His family still own a club in
the third division here called Chelsea," added Rukoro in a
telephone interview from Windhoek.
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