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Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 3:21 ( 1:21 GMT )
FIFA Bans Qatar's AFC President Bin Hammam for Life
24/07/2011 17:17:00
Mohamed Bin Hammam found guilty of corruption and is banned for life. But wil appeal.

After a two-day hearing of the International Football Federation's ethics committee, FIFA has banned Mohamed bin Hammam, the 62-year-old Qatari, the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) from the game for life after being found guilty of corruption.

Hammam, who said he would appeal to the highest courts to clear his name, was accused of trying to buy votes in the FIFA presidential election with $40,000 cash gifts to Caribbean football officials.

Announcing the ban on Saturday, ethics committee deputy chairman Petrus Damaseb said: "The official Mr Bin Hammam is hereby banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national or international level for life"

Bin Hammam did not attend the hearing that took place behind closed doors at FIFA headquarters in Zurich, but afterwards announced his intention to appeal.

The first step would be an appeal to FIFA. After that he is prepared to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and, if necessary, the civil courts.

In reaction to the FIFA decision, Bin Hammam, the most high-ranking FIFA figure to be convicted of corruption publishing on his blog a scanned copy of a personal letter sent to him by FIFA president Sepp Blatter in 2008, addressed to “My dear brother." He highlighted a phrase in which Blatter had written: "Without you, dear Mohamed, none of this would ever have been possible".

Suggesting that he holds Blatter at least partly responsible for his fate, below the letter, Bin Hammam wrote the words: "This is only the battle, not the war..." -

After the verdict was announced, the head of Bin Hammam's legal team, Eugene Gulland, read out a statement from him, which said” "Mr Bin Hammam rejects the findings of the FIFA ethics committee hearing and maintains his innocence. He will continue to fight his case through the legal routes that are open to him.

"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."

Whistle-blowers said Bin Hammam tried to bribe officials to vote for him by distributing cash-stuffed envelopes during a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, on May 10-11.

CFU officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, also being investigated by the ethics committee over claims they helped hand out the money, were each banned from football-related activity for a year.

In addition, Damaseb revealed that the committee had rejected an accusation of racial discrimination made by CFU members against CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer, who sparked the initial investigation into the bribery claims.

Former FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president Jack Warner was also charged over his alleged role in the affair, but his resignation from FIFA last month prompted the organisation to drop all the charges against him.

Damaseb said that the evidence reviewed by the committee during the hearing had yielded grounds for investigations into the conduct of other parties, but he did not reveal who they were.

Bin Hammam's withdrawal from the presidential election gifted a fourth straight term in office to his former ally Blatter, who made cleaning up FIFA's tarnished image a post-election priority.

The Qatari, who had been instrumental in winning the hosting rights of the 2022 World Cup for his tiny Gulf state, had expected to be punished by the ethics committee.

In the build-up to the hearing, Bin Hammam wrote on his blog: "It seems likely that FIFA has already made its decision weeks ago. So none of us should be completely surprised if a guilty verdict is returned."
 
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