Bin Hammam Has Lifetime FIFA Ban Annulled By Court
Former Asian Football Confederation President Mohamed Bin Hammam had his lifetime ban from football "annulled by the court of arbitration for sport" on Thursday, according to David Conn of the London GUARDIAN. However, the judgment was "heavily qualified." The court stressed that Bin Hammam "had not been found innocent of providing the cash for $40,000 payments," which were handed out by the former FIFA Executive Committee member Jack Warner to delegates of the Caribbean Football Union days before the election. The three-man Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) panel, which included the British QC Philippe Sands, emphasized only that it was "case not proven," because the evidence, compiled following FIFA's own investigation, was "not sufficient to definitively prove Bin Hammam provided the suitcase full of dollar bills." The CAS panel said, "It is more likely than not that Mr. Bin Hammam was the source of the monies … and that his conduct … may not have complied with the highest ethical standards that should govern the world of football and other sports" (GUARDIAN, 7/19). The AP reported that Bin Hammam faces new charges of bribery at the AFC. The AFC claimed this week that its president's financial management "was revealed in a forensic audit of the governing body's accounts." The AFC allegations concerning bribery and mismanagement of commercial contacts "will block Bin Hammam from an immediate return to his office" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The AFC imposed a 30-day suspension on him this week. He is also "prevented from retaking his seat at FIFA's executive committee table" (AP, 7/19).
BLOW TO FIFA: BLOOMBERG's Tariq Panja reported that the verdict is "the latest blow to hit FIFA." The organization responsible for the $5B World Cup "has faced corruption scandals and is in the middle of a program to reform its corporate governance" (BLOOMBERG, 7/19). The BBC reported that Bin Hammam wants to "retire from football" despite the ruling. Bin Hammam: "My wish now is just to quit and retire. I've served football for 42 years, this last year I have seen a very ugly face of the sport and of football. I should have the benefit of the doubt" (BBC, 7/19).
FIFA'S RESPONSE: FIFA said in a statement that Bin Hammam "remains suspended until the current case has been concluded." FIFA's statement read, "FIFA has taken note of the decision by the Asian Football Confederation earlier this week to open a disciplinary case against Mohamed Bin Hammam and to provisionally suspend him from taking part in any football activity for another matter." The statement continued, "The chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee extended this provisional suspension to worldwide level [Wednesday]. Therefore, Mohamed Bin Hammam remains suspended until the current case has been concluded" (FIFA).