Truth has prevailed, Bin Hammam tells AFP

19 July 2012 06:17

Mohamed Bin Hammam exclusively told AFP that "the truth has been established" after the life-long ban handed to him by FIFA was lifted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday.

Bin Hammam was banned from football for life in July last year after being accused of trying to buy votes during the FIFA presidential election, but the CAS ruled that the allegations had not been proven.

"The truth has been established after this long procedure and my conscience is clear," he told AFP in a telephone interview. "It's not revenge for me (against FIFA), it's about showing equanimity from my point of view (towards FIFA)."

Bin Hammam was the president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) when he was banned from the sport by FIFA's Ethics Committee following an investigation that took place behind closed doors at the organisation's Zurich headquarters.

"I always said that I was innocent during the process," added Bin Hammam.

"I was sure that when the affair went before an independent body, the truth would come out, and that's what's happened.

"I'm very happy because I've been able to prove that all the allegations against me were false and were intended to tarnish my reputation."

Bin Hammam was accused of trying to purchase votes by distributing envelopes containing $40,000 in cash to delegates during a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in May 2011.

His subsequent withdrawal from the presidential election saw Sepp Blatter re-elected unopposed for a fourth consecutive term at the head of world football's governing body.

"I'm even more happy because my colleagues from CONCACAF (the confederation that includes the CFU), who were at my side, see their honour restored after their names were dragged through the mud due to these unfounded accusations," Bin Hammam said.

"They have also been victims of a great injustice but the CAS decision has cleaned their honour.

"Going forward, I'll see with my lawyers. All options are open."

The CAS on Thursday overturned Bin Hammam's ban after citing "insufficient evidence" to impose the penalty.

However, the three-member panel that considered the case stopped short of exonerating the 63-year-old completely.

The Lausanne-based tribunal said in a statement on its website: "The CAS has upheld Mr Bin Hammam's appeal, annulled the decision rendered by the FIFA Appeal Committee and lifted the life ban imposed on Mr Bin Hammam."

But it added that the panel "was unable to conclude to its comfortable satisfaction that the charges against Mr Bin Hammam were established" and considered the case "not proven".

There was no direct evidence to link Bin Hammam with the money's presence at the CFU meeting, but the panel said it was "possible to infer" that Bin Hammam's failure to prove the cash's provenance "might be explained by the fact that it would have confirmed that he was the source".

The CAS panel said it was "more likely than not that Mr Bin Hammam was the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad and Tobago".

The judgment does not mean that Bin Hammam -- who helped secure Qatar's successful bid for the 2022 World Cup -- is free to resume footballing activities.

He was provisionally replaced after nine years as president of the AFC pending appeals and on Monday was suspended for a further 30 days over fresh corruption claims after an external audit of AFC financial accounts.