x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Bin Hammam and Warner suspended by Fifa, Blatter cleared

The Qatari AFC president will now face a full investigation into bribery accusations, while Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president can still run for re-election on June 1.

Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, was yesterday cleared by an ethics committee of any involvement of alleged payments that were made to Caribbean Football Union officials by Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner on a trip to Trinidad on May 10-11.
Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, was yesterday cleared by an ethics committee of any involvement of alleged payments that were made to Caribbean Football Union officials by Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner on a trip to Trinidad on May 10-11.

Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner were suspended from all football-related activity by Fifa’s ethics committee yesterday, pending the outcome of a full inquiry into bribery accusations.

A complaint lodged by bin Hammam against Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, that he knew about the payments to Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials was rejected by the ethics committee.

Bin Hammam withdrew from the Fifa presidential election early yesterday. Jerome Valcke, the Fifa secretary general, said that the election, with Blatter as the only candidate, will take place as scheduled on Wednesday.

Bin Hammam, the 62-year-old Qatari, is the president of the Asian Football Confederation and has been a member of the Fifa executive committee since 1996. He appeared before the ethics committee and said he was innocent of allegations of bribery stemming from a May 10-11 meeting that included Warner, president of the North American federation.

Bin Hammam’s ban would have forced him from the presidential race had he not withdrawn. from it earlier in the day.

He had campaigned as the candidate for honesty and change.

When he withdrew from the race, he said in a statement: “For the good of football, I wanted the future to be bright for our world’s governing body and for it to adapt to the ever-changing world we live in today.

“However, recent events have left me hurt and disappointed on a professional and personal level.

“It saddens me that standing up for the causes that I believed in has come at a great price – the degradation of Fifa’s reputation. This is not what I had in mind for Fifa and this is unacceptable.”

Franz Beckenbauer, the retiring executive committee member, called the corruption allegations “a disaster” for Fifa.

Bin Hammam and Warner are accused of handing over bundles of cash, each of US$40,000 (Dh147,000), to Caribbean football officials.

Petrus Damaseb, the Namibian judge presiding over the ethics committee, said there was enough evidence against them to justify them being suspended, pending the full inquiry.

He told a news conference in Zurich: “Mr bin Hammam is hereby provisionally banned from taking part in any football-related activity until Fifa’s ethics committee take a decision on this matter, and the same decision for Mr Jack Warner.”

Two officials from the CFU, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, who were alleged to have been handed the money, have also been banned pending an inquiry.

Blatter was accused by bin Hammam of knowing about the payments and not reporting them, but he told the ethics committee he had warned Warner that any such payments were not appropriate.

Damaseb said: “The committee took the view that the obligation to report did not arise because at that stage no wrongdoing had occurred.”

Warner denied that any such conversation with Blatter had taken place.

Valcke said the presidential election would take place Wednesday as planned with Blatter as the only candidate, but that the Fifa Congress of 208 nations could decide to change this if there was a 75 per cent majority.

Meanwhile, Valcke said a report commissioned by the English Football Associationinto formerchairman Lord Triesman’s allegations of impropriety by four Fifa members, including Warner, had found no meaningful evidence to back up the claims.

Triesman said the four had asked for cash or favours to support England’s 2018 bid but that evidence from other England officials had not supported these claims. “They are completely clean,” said Valcke.

Timeline of events

Mohamed bin Hammam, a viable candidate for the Fifa presidency last week, saw his campaign unravel over a few days.

April 1 Bin Hammam, the head of the Asian Football Confederation, declares that he will stand for election as president of Fifa.

April 11-May 15 Bin Hammam travels to Africa, Europe, South America and North America in search of support for his candidacy.

May 10-11 Bin Hammam visits Port of Spain, Trinidad, and meets with the North American federation head Jack Warner.

Wednesday Fifa executive committee member Chuck Blazer reports bin Hammam and Warner – plus two other officials – to the ethics committee over allegations of bribery during a May 10-11 meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

Friday Fifa announces “ethics proceedings” against president Sepp Blatter. Bin Hammam earlier issues a statement confirming he had requested the investigation be broadened to include Blatter, with bin Hammam alleging that Blatter knew about alleged cash payments. Bin Hammam later claimed there was “increasing evidence” of a conspiracy against his bid for the presidency.

Saturday Warner insists he was not guilty of a “single iota of wrongdoing”.

Yesterday Bin Hammam reveals in the morning on his website that he has withdrawn from the presidential election. In the late afternoon, the Fifa ethics committee suspends bin Hammam and Warner indefinitely from all football activities and clears Blatter of all charges, leaving the Swiss to run unopposed on Wednesday for his fourth term as Fifa president.