FIFA may give life ban to Bin Hammam
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Friday 22 July 2011
Mohamed Bin Hammam will face Fifa's Ethics Committee in Zurich today with the very real prospect of a life ban from the sport being imposed come tomorrow evening when the two-day hearing is concluded.
According to a widely leaked report compiled for the committee by a former head of the FBI, there is "compelling circumstantial evidence" that Bin Hammam (below) did attempt to bribe members of the Caribbean Football Union during his aborted campaign to challenge Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency. Bin Hammam was suspended by Fifa on 29 May, days before the election which Blatter was to win unchallenged.
The Qatari has maintained his innocence and claimed that the charges are "politically motivated".
Bin Hammam is accused of offering $40,000 (£24,500) in cash to 25 delegates from Caribbean associations at a hotel in Trinidad in May. According to witnesses, Jack Warner, like Bin Hammam then a member of Fifa's Executive Committee, instructed attendees that their gifts could be collected from the boardroom. There it is alleged two CFU officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, handed over brown envelopes containing cash. The report compiled by Freeh Group International, a detective agency owned by Louis Freeh, heard from at least seven associations that they were offered cash – 12 of them did not cooperate.
According to the report, leaked to the Press Association, Bin Hammam would not be interviewed for the investigation, refused to release banking records and stated that "requested telephone records do not exist". Warner's resignation from Fifa and all football activities means that the case against him has been dropped.
After today's hearings behind closed doors, the committee, chaired by the Namibia judge Petrus Damaseb, will deliberate tomorrow with a decision expected late afternoon. If found guilty of the charges, Bin Hammam is likely to be banished from the sport for life, barring him from playing any part in his country's hosting of the 2022 World Cup.
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