FIFA summons Klass to hearing on Friday

GENEVA — Caribbean official Colin Klass has been summoned by FIFA to answer charges Friday relating to $40,000 bribes allegedly offered by former presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam.

However, Klass said Monday that FIFA was moving “in a hurry” and he hoped to delay the case by several days to prepare his defense.

“I need more time to get everything in perspective,” the Guyana football federation president told The Associated Press by telephone.

Colin Klass

FIFA suspended Klass last month pending a full investigation by FGI Europe, an agency led by former FBI director Louis Freeh.

“We can confirm that the ethics committee will hold a meeting on Friday, September 23 to look at the case of Colin Klass, who was provisionally suspended on August 11,” the governing body of world football said Monday in a statement. Another 15 Caribbean officials under investigation after attending bin Hammam’s May 10 campaign visit to Trinidad are awaiting hearing dates at FIFA headquarters.

Klass was the only one of the 16 to be suspended pending a hearing after FIFA cited “consideration of the specific information received on this matter.”

Klass, a member of FIFA’s futsal and beach soccer committee, is a longtime ally of former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, who ran Caribbean football for three decades until resigning in June.

Klass attended the Caribbean Football Union meeting in Trinidad where bin Hammam allegedly offered voters $40,000 payments to back his later-abandoned election challenge to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

FIFA’s appeals panel upheld bin Hammam’s life ban last week, and the Qatari official has pledged to challenge the ruling at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. After bin Hammam was expelled by the ethics panel on July 23, FIFA gave CFU members a further 48 hours to provide explanations and confessions or “be subject to the full range of sanctions.”

Klass is the most senior official of the 16 charged, with FIFA warning that further cases could be opened.
The accused include former international referee Mark Bob Forde of Barbados, Haiti federation president Yves Jean-Bart and Guyana federation official Noel Adonis.

One of world football’s few senior women officials, Franka Pickering of the British Virgin Islands, is among several federation presidents under investigation. Osiris Guzman of the Dominican Republic and Anthony Johnson of St. Kitts and Nevis also face FIFA charges.

Investigators have sought meetings with the officials in the Bahamas under the guidance of ethics committee member Robert Torres, a supreme court judge from Guam.

Tarnished by the scandal, bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy three days before the FIFA election in June, though he denies the allegations.

Blatter was left unopposed to receive a fourth four-year presidential term, and was endorsed by 186 of FIFA’s 208 national members, including most Caribbean islands.

On Oct. 21, Blatter is scheduled to provide details of his promised anti-corruption project to clean up world football and its tattered image.

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