|AFC president Bin Hammam is challenging FIFA incumbent Sepp Blatter for the presidency of the world body [AFP]
Mohamed bin Hammam has denied bribery allegations after world football's governing body FIFA announced it was investigating bin Hammam, who is challenging Sepp Blatter for the presidency, and Jack Warner, the vice-president of FIFA, over allegations of bribery.
A statement issued by FIFA on Wednesday said it was told of the claims on Tuesday from Chuck Blazer,
an American executive committee member, which included "bribery allegations".
The charges referred to a Caribbean Football Union meeting which was attended by Warner and Bin Hammam in May and was linked to the election campaign.
"This has been a difficult and painful day for me today," Bin Hammam said in a statement.
The Qatari football leader says the allegations are "a tactic being used by those who have no confidence in their own ability to emerge successfully from the FIFA presidential election.''
"But, if there is even the slightest justice in the world, these allegations will vanish in the wind.
Bin Hammam said in the statement: "Here I completely deny any allegations of wrongdoing either intentionally or unknowingly while I was in the Caribbean.
"I will speak to Mr. Warner on this subject and offer him my full support in ensuring we are discharged honourably by the FIFA Ethics Committee, a body which I hold in the highest esteem.
"I am confident that there is no charge to answer and that I will be free to stand in the FIFA Presidential election on June 1 as originally planned"
Mohamed Bin Hammam
"I am confident that there is no charge to answer and that I will be free to stand in the FIFA Presidential election on June 1 as originally planned."
Bin Hammam, the head of the Asian Football Confederation and the only man running against Blatter, is one of four officials summoned by FIFA to appear before its ethics committee on Sunday.
The Caribbean Football Union meeting, held in Port of Spain in Trinidad & Tobago, was organised so Bin Hammam could state his election case to delegates as he was unable to attend the CONCACAF Congress in Miami on May 3 after being denied a visa for the United States.
Blazer, of the United States, is CONCACAF's general secretary.
CONCACAF, the North and Central America and Caribbean Confederation, holds 35 of the 208 votes at the FIFA Congress which will choose between Bin Hamman and incumbent President Blatter.
|The presidential contest between Blatter and Bin Hammam has grown increasingly bitter [EPA]
News of the charges comes exactly one week before the presidential elections in Zurich.
FIFA said possible violations of the body's ethics code had been brought to the attention of FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke by Blazer on May 24.
"In particular, the report referred to a special meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), apparently organised jointly by FIFA Vice-President Jack A. Warner and FIFA Executive Committee member Mohamed bin Hammam, which took place on 10 and 11 May 2011. This meeting was linked to the upcoming FIFA presidential election," FIFA said in a statement.
"In view of the facts alleged in this report, which include bribery allegations, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, in compliance with art. 16 of the FIFA Code of Ethics, yesterday requested the FIFA Ethics Committee to open ethics proceedings."
FIFA has been haunted by corruption allegations since last year when two executive committee members were banned from all football-related activity for allegedly offering to sell their votes in the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosting contests to undercover newspaper reporters.
Earlier this month, a British parliamentary inquiry into why England failed to secure the 2018 finals was told by member of parliament Damian Collins there was evidence from Britain's Sunday Times newspaper that Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast were paid by Qatar.
Qatar, chosen in December to host the 2022 World Cup ahead of the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea, have categorically denied the allegations as have Hayatou and Anouma.
Blatter, standing for a fourth term, already has the support of Europe, Africa, South America and Oceania.