x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Conspiracy theories running wild with Bin Hamman hinting at smear campaign

Carlo Nohra, the UAE Pro League chief executive says the allegations made against the Qatari challenging for the Fifa presidency are “mudslinging” and “reek of a cowardly act”.

Mohamed bin Hammam has been called to a Fifa ethics hearing along with Jack Warner to face allegations of corruption during bin Hammam's visit to Trinidad & Tobago.
Mohamed bin Hammam has been called to a Fifa ethics hearing along with Jack Warner to face allegations of corruption during bin Hammam's visit to Trinidad & Tobago.

The chief executive of the Pro League said that the allegations being made against Mohamed bin Hammam in the latter stages of the bitterly-contested Fifa presidential election are "mudslinging" and "reek of a cowardly act".

Carlo Nohra said the bin Hammam he knows from seven years of working in Kuala Lumpur with the Asian Football Confederation president is "a very honourable man, and I speak from experience".

He added: "I don't ever question his honesty and integrity because I know times when he could have abandoned that and he never did."

He said those questioning his ethics are people "just concerned that somebody from this part of the world is likely to become Fifa president".

Bin Hammam, the Qatari who is attempting to unseat the Fifa president Sepp Blatter, yesterday was called to a Fifa ethics hearing in Zurich to face allegations of corruption during bin Hammam's visit to Trinidad & Tobago two weeks ago. Also called by Fifa: Jack Warner, the long-time president of the North American football federation, and two Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials.

Chuck Blazer, the Fifa executive committee member from the United States, levelled the charges of corruption involving bin Hammam, Warner and the two others.

They are expected to speak to Fifa officials on Sunday. The election for president will be held on Wednesday.

On his blog, bin Hammam yesterday said he was innocent of any wrongdoing and suggested that the Blatter camp was trying to smear him.

"Here I completely deny any allegations of wrongdoing either intentionally or unknowingly while I was in the Caribbean," he wrote.

He also said that "if there is even the slightest justice in the world, these allegations will vanish in the wind."

He added: "This move is little more than a tactic being used by those who have no confidence in their own ability to emerge successfully from the Fifa presidential election."

Bin Hammam has campaigned on a platform of honesty, integrity and transparency, and the charges strike at the heart of his message just days before the election.

Blazer's report, which included "bribery allegations", referred to a CFU meeting which was attended by Warner and bin Hammam on May 10-11 and was linked to the election campaign, Fifa said.

The meeting was organised so bin Hammam could state his election case to delegates; he had been unable to attend the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) in Miami on May 3 because of visa problems.

Blazer is the general secretary of Concacaf, a region which holds 35 of the 208 votes at the Fifa Congress and has not endorsed either candidate.

Warner has always been regarded as a staunch Blatter supporter but said that his confederation had not yet chosen who it would back this time.

Fifa would not comment on whether the election might now be postponed.

"On May 24, Fifa executive committee member and Concacaf general secretary Chuck Blazer reported to Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke possible violations of the Fifa code of ethics allegedly committed by officials," Fifa said in a statement.

"In view of the facts alleged in this report, which include bribery allegations, Jerome Valcke requested the Fifa Ethics Committee to open ethics proceedings."

Fifa added that the ethics committee would be headed by Namibia's Petrus Damaseb as its usual chairman Claudio Sulser shares the same nationality as Swiss Blatter.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

* With agencies