Bin Hammam gets life ban for offering bribes

The biggest bribery scandal in the 107-year history of Fifa snared its highest-profile victim last night when the most powerful man in Asian football, Mohamed bin Hammam, was banned for life. Bin Hammam, who was already suspended pending a full inquiry, had failed to co-operate with the official investigation into the cash-for-votes debacle, saying he was only prepared to defend himself in front of Fifa's five-man ethics committee.

But, in the end, he failed to show up for the committee's two-day hearing at Fifa headquarters in Zurich, sending lawyers to dispel claims that he offered cash gifts to Caribbean countries at a specially arranged meeting in Trinidad at the time he was running as an opponent to Sepp Blatter in last month's Fifa presidential election.

The ethics committee, headed by Namibian judge Petrus Damaseb, were clearly unimpressed. "Bin Hammam is hereby banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level for life," Damaseb said after the hearing. "The decision was in keeping with the declared policy of the committee to show zero tolerance towards unethical behaviour."

If Bin Hammam's decision to boycott the hearing came as a surprise after several strong-worded appeals for justice, the verdict against him did not. On the eve of the hearing, the former head of the Asian Football Confederation – a member of Fifa's executive committee for 15 years who dropped his presidential candidacy hours before his original suspension in May – suggested the outcome was a foregone conclusion. "It seems likely that Fifa has already made its decision weeks ago," said Bin Hammam, who is convinced of a dirty tricks campaign against him following a spate of leaks about the case. "None of us should be surprised if a guilty verdict is returned.

"My legal team and I remain confident that the case and the evidence presented against me are weak and unsubstantiated."

The 62-year-old Qatari's strategy appears to have been a deliberate tactic to avoid being questioned by the committee after long predicting he would not get a fair trial. It means that none of those originally charged in the case brought by Fifa's American ExCo member Chuck Blazer – Bin Hammam, former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner, and two Caribbean Football Union officials, Jason Sylvester and Debbie Minguel – ended up being present at the ethics committee ruling.

Warner, the former head of Concacaf, resigned several weeks ago from all footballing activities after being charged with facilitating the May 10-11 meeting when cash bungs of $40,000 [£24,500] were allegedly paid, or offered, to 25 Caribbean representatives. Sylvester and Minguel were each banned for a year yesterday while a warning was also issued to Blazer for allegedly telling certain CFU individuals during the process that they were being investigated when they were not.

Despite last night's verdict, Bin Hamman, unlike Warner, seems bound to appeal rather than accept his fate. Just before the ethics committee hearing started on Friday he vowed to go to the Court of Arbitration [for] Sport "or, if necessary, through other courts or legal proceedings in courts where we will be equal and no special privileges will be granted to either party."

With over a third of FIFA's inner sanctum now tarnished by various allegations of corruption or improper behaviour, yesterday's verdict will go some way towards justifying Blatter's pledge to finally clean up the disgraced world governing body.

One unknown factor, however, is how Bin Hammam's ban will impact on Qatar's 2022 World Cup preparations. The tiny Gulf state has come under constant scrutiny, without any evidence of wrongdoing, since winning the 2022 race by a landslide. Recently the whistle-blower who made a string of globally publicised corruption allegations against the bid process withdrew her entire story but Bin Hammam's ban will give Qatar another headache they could do without even although he played a peripheral role in the bid.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat