ZURICH - Mohamed Bin Hammam, the Asian
football chief who was due to challenge Sepp Blatter for the FIFA
presidency last month, was banned for life by football's ruling
body on Saturday for his part in a cash-for-votes scandal.
The 62-year-old Qatari, who has been on FIFA's Executive Committee since 1996, vowed to appeal against the suspension. He
said he was innocent and the case against him was built upon
"lies by senior FIFA officials."
A FIFA Ethics Committee launched an investigation following
allegations that Bin Hammam, a multi-millionaire businessman,
had tried to buy the votes of Caribbean Football Union
(CFU)officials ahead of the presidential election on June 1.
After a two-day hearing at FIFA headquarters Bin Hammam was
found to have broken seven articles of the organisation's ethics
code including one on bribery, acting head of the committee
Petrus Damaseb told reporters.
Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner, a major FIFA
powerbroker, resigned in June after he was also accused of
wrongdoing at the same meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on
May 10-11, the latest scandal to hit football's beleaguered
Like Bin Hammam, Warner was provisionally banned pending the
ethics committee investigation into allegations that Caribbean
officials were handed $40,000 each in brown envelopes as a
Bin Hammam, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president
since 2002, pulled out of the FIFA presidential race on May 29,
leaving Blatter to be re-elected unopposed for a fourth term
three days later.
Damaseb also said two CFU officials, Debbie Minguell and
Jason Sylvester, would be banned for one year and recommended
further investigations "into conduct of others who attended the
meeting of May 10-11".
Chuck Blazer, the FIFA Executive Committee member whose
report led to the ethics committee probe, was warned for
comments he made at a CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central
American and Caribbean Association Football) meeting in Zurich
on May 30.
None of the four accused attended the two-day hearing in
Zurich but Bin Hammam was represented by his lawyers.
"He rejects the findings and maintains his innocence," said
Eugene Gulland, one of the Qatari's representatives. "He will
continue to fight his case through the legal routes that are
open to him.
"He has gone on record and maintains the FIFA ethics
committee was going to find against him whatever the validity of
the case he presented to them.
"The FIFA Ethics Committee has apparently based its decision
on so-called circumstantial evidence which our case has clearly
demonstrated was bogus, and founded on lies told by senior FIFA
officials," added Gulland.
"We have not shared our evidence, which is compelling, with
the media and FIFA has done exactly the opposite. There appears
to be selective and continual leaking of documentation... to
the media to influence public opinion and to create bias."
One ethics committee report was leaked immediately after
Warner's resignation and said it had found "comprehensive,
convincing and overwhelming" evidence that the Trinidadian
official and Bin Hammam were involved in attempted bribery.
FIFA was also rocked last year when two executive committee
members were banned after allegedly offering to sell votes in
the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting race to undercover newspaper
Blatter has promised "zero tolerance" against corruption and
vowed to set up a new "solutions committee" to act as a watchdog
although he raised eyebrows by naming former U.S. Secretary of
State Henry Kissinger and Spanish tenor Placido Domingo as
The 75-year-old Swiss has recently turned against members of
his executive committee, saying they are chosen by their
respective confederations and he cannot vouch for them.
Blatter was in Argentina, for Sunday's Copa America final
between Uruguay and Paraguay, when the life ban was announced.
Qatar is to host the 2022 World Cup and Bin Hammam's
compatriots said his legacy would live on.
"It's sad for all of Qatar, not just Mohamed," said Mohammed
Johar, 50, head of logistics for the Al Jazeera sports
channel in Doha. "We grew up together, he was president of my
club, Al Rayyan.
"From the beginning I never thought these charges were true.
He faced problems and tried to solve them honestly.
"The people will remember him very well, not just in Qatar
but in Asia and Africa as well," added Johar.
Bin Hammam must wait several weeks for a full report of the
ethics committee's sentence before he can start his appeal.
He will first have to go to FIFA's Appeals Committee and can
then take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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