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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bin Hammam appeals FIFA’s banning him for life from soccer



Mohammed Bin Hammam (Source: http://victorikoli.blogspot.com)
By James M. Dorsey

Suspended Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohammed Bin Hammam has appealed world soccer body FIFA’s decision to ban him for life from involvement in soccer and oust him as the body’s vice president.

In a statement, the 62-year old Qatari national said that he had filed with the soccer body’s appeals committee his appeal against last month’s verdict by the group’s ethic committee that found him guilty of bribery.

Mr. Bin Hammam, who has asserted that the charges against him had been trumped up to prevent him from challenging FIFA president Sepp Blatter in last June’s presidential election said that he was “not hoping for justice to prevail” but had filed the appeal  “ as a protocol to enable me access to the Court of Arbitration of Sport."

Mr. Bin Hammam is the most senior figure ever to have been banned by FIFA and is at the center of the worst corruption scandal in the organization’s 107-year history.

Mr. Bin Hammam withdrew his presidential candidacy in late May hours before the ethics committee suspended him pending its investigation. His withdrawal paved the way for Mr. Blatter’s unchallenged re-election for a fourth term as president. Mr. Bin Hammam was banned based on the conclusions of the investigation.

The investigation has led to enquiries into a number of Caribbean soccer officials whom Mr. Bin Hammam allegedly bribed to secure their support for his presidential campaign. The head of North and Central American and Caribbean soccer, Jack Warner, resigned to avoid investigation.

Mr. Bin Hammam filed his appeal after FIFA last week released the documents justifying its decision.

"The panel from the Appeals Committee is decided by my opponent and in this case, as previously, the judge is the rival. Therefore, I should not exaggerate hope for a fair decision,” Mr. Bin Hammam said.

He said the decision by the ethics committee was “deeply flawed” and raised “doubts on whether any decision-making body of FIFA has sufficient independence to ensure a fair decision based solely on evidences and applicable laws.”

Mr. Bin Hammam suggested that the appeals process could take up to two months and charged that FIFA would seek to extend the process.

The AFC last month decided to postpone a decision on whether to replace Mr. Bin Hammam, whose presidency of the group has been suspended, effectively giving him time for the appeals process.

Mr. Bin Hammam asserted that he had been suspended by FIFA on May 29 allegedly on strong evidence provided by FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke and executive committee member Chuck Blazer.

"Yet despite the alleged strong evidences conclusive enough to justify my suspension and deprived me of going to the Congress and running as a FIFA Presidential candidate surprisingly enough, FIFA went for another investigation again, this time by (former FBI chief Louis Freeh’s) Freeh group, to look for evidences which they never had in the first instance to suspend me. Consequently, my suspension, instead of 30 days became almost two months and on 23 July, I was found guilty beyond any doubt by a kangaroo court and banned for life,” Mr. Bin Hammam said.

James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.

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