The Court of Arbitration for Sport has lifted the life ban on Mohamed Bin Hammam for bribery allegations. The Asian Football Confederation said their former president would remain suspended on different allegations.
A Swiss court has overturned the life ban imposed on former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam, citing insufficient evidence. The former football administrator was accused of bribery during his campaign last year.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said the decision did not amount to an "affirmative finding of innocence," but that FIFA's initial investigation into the bribery allegations against Bin Hammam's had not been thorough enough and could be reopened with new evidence.
Bin Hammam was previously fighting charges that he had bribed Caribbean soccer officials during his presidential campaign. He allegedly sought to buy votes by handing them $40,000 each in brown envelopes at a meeting in Port of Spain. He was banned for life, while Sepp Blatter was subsequently reelected unopposed for a fourth term as FIFA president.
Jack Warner resigned in June of last year
Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner was also accused of ethics violations and was present at the meeting in Trinidad and Tobago. CONCACAF stands for the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Football. FIFA dropped their investigation of Warner when he resigned last year.
'Case not proven'
The CAS said their three-man panel voted 2-1 in Bin Hammam's favor, but noted his behavior was "not of the highest ethical standard."
"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," said the CAS.
But the CAS added "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."
AFC suspension stands
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which Bin Hammam formerly headed, said that it noted the CAS ruling, but that their separate suspension would remain in place. The AFC announced Monday that the Qatari was suspended for 30 days on new corruption charges.
"As far as AFC is concerned, Mr. Bin Hammam remains under provisional suspensions," said the organization in a release, citing "possible violations of AFC statutes, AFC disciplinary code and the AFC code of ethics."
The 63-year-old was suspended following an audit of the confederation's financial accounts, which concerned "the negotiation and execution of certain contracts and with the financial transactions made in and out of the AFC bank accounts and his personal account during the tenure Mr. Bin Hammam's presidency," the AFC said.
The alleged violations included violations of AFC statutes on ethics, corruption, conflicts of interest, bribery and accepting fits and other benefits, according to the AFC.
dr/slk (Reuters, AFP, dpa)