Asian football body suspends chief bin Hammam
KUALA LUMPUR - Agence France-Presse
In this file photo dated May 10, 2011 Mohamed bin Hammam, chief of the Asian Football Confederation, talks to local media in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. AP Photo
The Asian Football Confederation said yesterday it had suspended for 30 days its chief Mohamed bin Hammam over possible ethical violations in a new blow to the under-fire Qatari’s efforts to clear his name.
Bin Hammam, 63, has been fighting charges he tried to buy FIFA delegate votes in campaigning to unseat the world body’s long-standing president Sepp Blatter in a leadership election last year.
The scandal earned him a FIFA life ban from football and he has been provisionally replaced by the AFC pending appeals.
But the AFC said in a statement posted on its website that it had handed bin Hammam a 30-day suspension the day before following an external audit of the confederation’s financial accounts.
The audit deals with “events surrounding the negotiation and execution of certain contracts and with the financial transactions made in and out of AFC bank accounts and his personal account during the tenure of Mr. Bin Hammam’s presidency,” the statement read.
Bin Hammam is suspended “from taking part in any kind of football activity in the area of jurisdiction of the AFC until the AFC Disciplinary Committee reaches a decision on the merits in the present matter,” it added.
The statement said the alleged infringements included violations of AFC statutes on ethics, corruption, conflicts of interest, bribery and accepting gifts and other benefits.
But it gave no other details and said it would not comment further on the case for the time being. An AFC spokesman declined comment to AFP on the issue.
Retaking the post
Fresh allegations of impropriety look likely to complicate bin Hammam’s efforts to regain the leadership of the AFC. He was sidelined by the body last year and replaced on an interim basis by Zhang Jilong, China’s former football boss.
AFP was not immediately able to reach bin Hammam for comment.
He has denied wrongdoing in the FIFA presidential challenge, saying cash hand-outs he received during the election were merely gifts, and he describes the charges and his punishment by FIFA as politically motivated.
He lost an appeal with FIFA over his life ban and has since lodged a further appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.
Besides painting a corrupt picture of FIFA, the revelations also focused attention on Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup, in which bin Hammam played a key role, and sparked calls for reform of FIFA’s governance structure.