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Football
Bin Hammam absent from ethics hearing
Qatari says evidence against him is 'flimsy' but does not arrive at FIFA hearing in Zurich to face bribery allegations.
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2011 11:30

Suspended Asian football chief Mohamed bin Hammam has failed to arrive for a hearing into allegations of bribery that could see him banned from the sport for life.

The 62-year-old Qatari, suspended from all football activity since May 29, is accused of attempting to buy the FIFA presidency by offering $40,000 cash gifts to Caribbean football officials in a bid to secure their votes.

He was due to face a FIFA Ethics Committee panel in Zurich on Friday – but Al Jazeera's correspondent Lee Wellings reported that the Qatari has not arrived in Switzerland.

The corruption charges prompted Bin Hammam to withdraw from the presidential race, enabling his former ally Sepp Blatter to secure an unopposed fourth straight term in office at the beginning of June.

Bin Hammam posted a statement on his website on Friday, which read: “I want you all to know that my legal team and I remain confident that the case and the evidence presented against me are weak and unsubstantiated.

Scrutiny

"They are flimsy and will not stand up to scrutiny in any court of law; that has been clear throughout this process and it remains to be so.

"If we believe earlier press statements made by or on behalf of different FIFA officials or those working for them, then despite the weakness of the case against me, I am not confident that the hearing will be conducted in the manner any of us would like.

"It seems likely that FIFA has already made its decision weeks ago. So, none of us should be completely surprised if a guilty verdict is returned.

"Following the events since my suspension, it now seems impossible, for them to say that they were wrong, although I wish they would have the courage to correct their mistake.

"Rest assured, though, that justice will eventually prevail whether through the FIFA Ethics Committee, the Court of Arbitration of Sport or if necessary, through other courts or legal proceedings in  courts where we will be equal and no special privileges will be granted to either party."

His case was due to be heard alongside those of Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, regional football officials who are alleged to have facilitated the bribery at a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) summit in May.

The pair have also not arrived, although it is understood they are not obliged to do so.

Former FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president Jack Warner was also charged over his alleged role in the affair, but his subsequent resignation from the football arena saw FIFA drop their charges against him.

Blatter, meanwhile, was cleared of wrongdoing after claims from Bin Hammam that he knew about the illicit payments.

Bin Hammam, a key player in Qatar's stunning victory in the contest to host the 2022 World Cup, was scheduled to appear before a five-person ethics committee panel chaired by Namibian Petrus Damaseb at FIFA headquarters.

They were due to deliver their verdict on Saturday.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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