Suspended Bin Hasmmam slams FIFA

AFP, Monday 30 May 2011

Bin Hamman throws accusations at FIFA and Blatter about pressure and millions gifted in ally-building against him in the bribery case

Mohamed bin Hammam

After a weekend of high drama at the tainted football body, bin Hammam accused FIFA of briefing media against him, while vice president Jack Warner said Blatter gave one regional grouping $1 million with no questions asked.

The latest claims follow Sunday's extraordinary events when bin Hammam sensationally withdrew from his FIFA presidential race against Blatter, and just hours later was barred from football activities pending a graft probe.

Most Asian football bodies contacted by AFP were not immediately able to comment, but heavyweights South Korea confirmed they were still supporting the Qatari.

"There has been no change yet in our official position," a Korea Football Association spokesman said.

Meanwhile Warner, who was also suspended over claims against both men about alleged vote-buying before Wednesday's poll, unleashed what he called a "football tsunami" aimed at Blatter and FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcker.

In his most serious claim, Warner accused Blatter of giving the North, Central American and Caribbean federations (CONCACAF) "a gift of one million USD… to spend as it deems fit" this month.

He added that Valcke said he would "find the money for Mr Blatter" even though the payment was not authorised by FIFA's finance committee, and claimed Blatter gave the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) "gifts of laptops and projectors" on May 10.

Warner's allegations are the latest in a spiral of claims whirling around senior FIFA figures, prompting widespread calls for deep reforms at the body which heads the world's most popular sport.

But despite the farcical events of recent days Blatter, who has helmed FIFA since 1998, looks certain to be re-elected unopposed for a fourth term as president on Wednesday.

Bin Hammam, whose stunning surrender in the presidential race came only hours after he passionately denied all charges and said they were trumped up, called his suspension "completely disproportionate".

He also accused Valcke of revealing to the media new evidence which was not included in Sunday's anti-corruption hearing, and telling reporters that he believed the Asian chief would be found guilty.

"I?m very disappointed about the way the status of the proceeding has been presented at the media conference. I am expecting that this will continue," bin Hammam said in a statement.

"This is not how I understand fair play. I'm reserving all my rights."

Recent revelations have stemmed from the race to host the 2018 and 2022 editions of the World Cup—the globe's biggest sports extravaganza—which were won by Russia and Qatar in December.

Two FIFA officials were suspended after a newspaper sting found they offered to sell their votes, while England's former 2018 bid chief said he witnessed "improper and unethical" behaviour by four FIFA voters, including Warner.

Bin Hammam, seen as being highly influential in Qatar's successful bid, and officials from the tiny, resource-rich country have strongly denied claims that large bribes were paid to secure its shock victory.

Last week CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer reported possible misdeeds by bin Hammam and Warner at a meeting on May 10 and 11, triggering an ethics hearing which ordered their suspension on Sunday.

Blatter was also interviewed by the ethics committee on Sunday, but was not suspended.


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