D-Day for Bin Hammam

2011-07-22 12:53

Zurich - Asian football supremo Mohamed bin Hammam was on Friday preparing to face allegations of bribery at a two-day FIFA ethics committee hearing here that could see him banned from the sport for life.

The 62-year-old Qatari, suspended from all football activity since May 29, is accused of attempting to buy the FIFA presidency by offering $40 000 cash gifts to Caribbean football officials in a bid to secure their votes.

The corruption charges prompted Bin Hammam to withdraw from the presidential race, enabling his former ally Sepp Blatter to secure an unopposed fourth straight term in office at the beginning of June.

Bin Hammam's case will be heard alongside those of Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, regional football officials who are alleged to have facilitated the bribery at a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) summit in May.

Former FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president Jack Warner was also charged over his alleged role in the affair, but his subsequent resignation from the football arena saw FIFA drop their charges against him.

Blatter, meanwhile, was cleared of wrongdoing after claims from Bin Hammam that he knew about the illicit payments.

Bin Hammam, a key player in Qatar's stunning victory in the contest to host the 2022 World Cup, is scheduled to appear before a five-person ethics committee panel chaired by Namibian Petrus Damaseb at FIFA headquarters.

The committee will deliver their verdict on Saturday.

Media reports claim the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president refused to co-operate fully in FIFA's investigation, but he has vowed to mount a robust defence of himself.

"Notwithstanding the bias and the absence of fair proceedings since the start of this trial, over the past seven weeks my legal team and I have been working very hard to provide convincing grounds that fair play was highly respected and observed throughout my election campaign," he wrote on his personal blog earlier this week.