Bin Hammam Says He’ll Fight to Clear Name Over Latest FIFA Probe

Mohamed Bin Hammam said he’ll fight to clear his name again after FIFA opened a new investigation into its former presidential candidate, who had his lifetime ban from soccer annulled by the top sports court last month.

FIFA said Aug. 10 that its ethics panel was investigating allegations of financial wrongdoing while Bin Hammam was head of the Asian Football Confederation and was also seeking more evidence that the Qatari tried to buy votes before last year’s FIFA elections.

Bin Hammam, 63, was given a 30-day suspension by the AFC on July 17 after an audit of the regional governing body’s accounts. FIFA extended the ban globally on July 26 by provisionally suspending him from any soccer activity for 90 days. In a letter to AFC members obtained by Bloomberg News, Bin Hammam said he would challenge what he described as “vindictive actions to destroy me and my reputation.”

“My legal team has filed an immediate response to the actions of the AFC and FIFA in relation to my latest politically motivated ban,” he said. “I will announce further steps very shortly to challenge this clear abuse of power and process at the hand of FIFA.”

Bin Hammam’s life ban was overturned July 19 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which ruled that an inquiry by former Federal Bureau of Investigation head Louis Freeh on behalf of FIFA failed to find enough evidence that Bin Hammam was the source of envelopes stuffed with $40,000 and handed to Caribbean soccer officials before the presidential election.

Bin Hammam challenged Sepp Blatter for the presidency last year before withdrawing three days before the vote.

CAS Ruling

The Lausanne, Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration said that, although it upheld Bin Hammam’s appeal against his life ban, it didn’t mean he was innocent of the charges and the case could be reopened if evidence related to events in the Caribbean was found by FIFA’s new independent investigators.

On July 17, FIFA named former U.S. attorney Michael J. Garcia as head investigator for its ethics committee and German judge Hans-Joachim Eckert to lead the adjudicatory branch. It said nine days later that Eckert provisionally banned Bin Hammam at Garcia’s request.

Bin Hammam’s AFC ban followed a forensic audit that centered on contract negotiations and payments to and from the Kuala Lumpur-based organization’s bank accounts. He said in the letter that the payments were made from his own accounts to individuals for welfare reasons including cancer treatment and tuition fees.

“This was my money and had nothing to do with the AFC,” Bin Hammam said. “Any assistance was personal in nature and from my heart.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net; Tariq Panja in London at tpanja@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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