Turmoil over FIFA top job as bin Hammam withdraws


The battle for FIFA’s top job was thrown into further turmoil Sunday when president Sepp Blatter’s main rival for the post, Mohamed bin Hammam, ended his campaign amid a bitter fall-out over allegations of corruption. Bin Hammam’s decision came just hours before both the Qatari and Blatter were scheduled to face the ethics committee of football’s world governing body over bribery allegations.
As Blatter was due to respond to claims that he knew about cash payments at the centre of a probe targeting bin Hammam, the latter quit the presidency race saying he was “hurt and disappointed” and did not want to see FIFA’s name “dragged more in the mud”. “It saddens me that standing up for the causes that I believed in has come at a great price — the degradation of FIFA’s reputation,” said 61-year-old bin Hammam, who campaigned on an anti-corruption platform and had waged a bitter war of words with long-serving Blatter.
Two days earlier, bin Hammam, FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and two Caribbean Football Union officials had been summoned to the ethics committee to answer corruption allegations. Bin Hammam and Warner were targeted after Chuck Blazer, general secretary of regional football body CONCACAF, reported possible misdeeds during a May 10 and 11 meeting in Trinidad.
British media reports said bin Hammam and Warner are accused of offering $40,000 (28,000 euros) in cash gifts to national associations at the Trinidad conference in return for their votes in the presidential election. Blatter has denied suggestions from bin Hammam that he orchestrated the charges against the man seeking to unseat him, dismissing them as “ludicrous”.
“I tell you something, in the next couple of days you will see a football tsunami that will hit FIFA and the world that will shock you,” Warner said. British Sports Minister Hugh Robertson has called for the FIFA election to be suspended and the body to follow the International Olympic Committee which brought in new rules after the Salt Lake City bribery scandal in 1999.
Former IOC vice-president Dick Pound, a former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency who was at the forefront of uncovering scandals involving Salt Lake City, told the BBC that countries could form a breakaway association from FIFA if the current problems are not solved.