Former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed Bin Hammam has had his lifetime FIFA ban rescinded by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Bin Hammam was handed a lifetime ban by FIFA’s ethics committee last year after being found guilty of paying cash gifts totalling close to $1 million to CONCACAF officials during his campaign to be elected the president of world football’s governing body in 2011
The Qatari withdrew his candidacy days before the election, paving the way for incumbent Sepp Blatter to continue unopposed for another four-year term.
However, the subsequent lifetime ban Bin Hammam received has now been overturned by CAS, after the court ruled that his appeal could be upheld because of a lack of evidence
CAS did not, though, claim that he was innocent and FIFA is still free to bring fresh proceedings against him if new evidence is found.
Bin Hammam will now likely turn his attention to a suspension imposed by the AFC earlier this week following a forensic audit of the governing body’s accounts.
A FIFA statement swiftly condemned the CAS decision, saying: “FIFA has noted with concern the decision announced today by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the Mohamed Bin Hammam case.”
FIFA notes that the CAS verdict indicates that Mohamed Bin Hammam has not been proven innocent and that ‘it is more likely than not that the Appellant (Mohamed Bin Hammam) was at the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad and Tobago and eventually distributed at the meeting’ (of the Caribbean Football Union on 10 and 11 May 2011).
“…Moreover, FIFA has taken note of the decision by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) 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 chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee extended this provisional suspension to worldwide level yesterday, 18 July 2012.
“Therefore, Mohamed Bin Hammam remains suspended until the current case has been concluded.”
Eugene Gulland, speaking on behalf of Bin Hammam’s legal team at Covington & Burling LLP, said: “We are delighted with the decision issued by the Court of Arbitration, rejecting all of FIFA’s unfounded allegations of wrongdoing against Bin Hammam, allowing his appeal and quashing FIFA’s unjust life ban.
“Throughout this lengthy process Mr. Bin Hammam has maintained his innocence and remained confident that he would be vindicated once the case was brought before an independent, third party body.
“Mr. Bin Hammam will now carefully consider his options before making further comment.” (Reuters)