Bin Hammam's FIFA Ban Overturned
Thu 19th Jul 2012 | FIFA
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) have upheld Mohamed Bin Hammam’s appeal against his lifetime ban from football related activity due to insufficient evidence.
Bin Hammam, the former President of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) was handed the life ban by the FIFA Appeal Committee following allegations of bribery during his FIFA Presidential election campaign.
It’s alleged that following a meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) in Trinidad and Tobago on 10 May 2011, Jack Warner, who was at the time a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, announced that there were “gifts” for representatives of the attending associations which amounted to USD 40,000 each from Bin Hammam.
The CAS Panel, composed of José Maria Alonso, Spain (President), Philippe Sands QC, United Kingdom, and Romano Subiotto QC, Belgium/United Kingdom, after thorough deliberations and on the basis of the evidence before it, was unable to conclude to its comfortable satisfaction that the charges against Bin Hammam were established.
CAS Panel stated it had not been presented with any direct evidence to link Bin Hammam with the money’s physical presence in Trinidad and Tobago, its transfer in a suitcase or otherwise to Mr Warner, and its subsequent offer to the CFU members for the purpose of inducing them to vote for Bin Hammam.
In particular, the Panel emphasised that: “No efforts were made to trace the source of [the] banknotes that were photographed, and recognises that it is possible to infer that the failure of Mr. Bin Hammam to carry out that relatively simple exercise in the course of these proceedings might be explained by the fact that it would have confirmed that he was the source”.
A statement released by CAS read: “This conclusion should not be taken to diminish the significance of its finding that it is more likely than not that Mr. Bin Hammam was the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad and Tobago and eventually distributed at the meeting by Mr Warner, and that in this way, his conduct, in collaboration with and most likely induced by Mr Warner, may not have complied with the highest ethical standards that should govern the world of football and other sports.
“The Panel therefore wishes to make clear that in applying the law, as it is required to do under the CAS Code, it is not making any sort of affirmative finding of innocence in relation to Mr Bin Hammam.
“The Panel is doing no more than concluding that the evidence is insufficient in that it does not permit the majority of the Panel to reach the standard of comfortable satisfaction in relation to the matters on which the Appellant was charged.
“It is a situation of “case not proven”, coupled with concern on the part of the Panel that the FIFA investigation was not complete or comprehensive enough to fill the gaps in the record.”
However, FIFA has noted its concern over the decision made today citing the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announcement earlier this week to open a disciplinary case against 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, which means Bin Hammam remains suspended until the current case has been concluded.
This new case being investigated by the relevant AFC bodies is based on a report from an international auditing company in relation to activities carried out over a number of years in the recent past, and also includes a number of irregularities.
At FIFA level, all relevant files will now be handed over to the new FIFA Ethics Committee, which will start operating on 25 July 2012. The FIFA Ethics Committee will then decide based on the reports and evidence presented to it if any action is required to be taken against Bin Hammam.
The CAS Panel reached its decision by a majority of 2-1.
Posted by: Aaron Gourley
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