ZURICH, (Reuters) – Suspended Asian soccer chief Mohamed Bin Hammam questioned whether he would be fairly treated as a two-day hearing began yesterday into allegations he tried to buy votes ahead of last month’s FIFA presidential election.
Describing the case against him as “flimsy” the Qatari, who pulled out of the presidential race over the allegations and was then provisionally banned, said he would take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) or civil courts if necessary.
“I am not confident the hearing will be conducted in the manner any of us would like,” Bin Hammam wrote on his personal website as the hearing began behind closed doors at FIFA’s headquarters in a plush Zurich suburb.
“It seems likely FIFA already made its decision weeks ago. So none of us should be completely surprised if a guilty verdict is returned.”
FIFA’s ethics committee are investigating whether Bin Hammam, 62, bribed Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials to vote for him at the presidential election where Sepp Blatter was re-elected unopposed for a fourth term following the Qatari’s withdrawal.
Several members of the CFU said they were offered inducements at a meeting in Port of Spain, Trinidad on May 10-11 when CFU officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester are alleged to have handed over envelopes containing the money.
Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner, like Bin Hammam a FIFA executive committee member, was also suspended but the case against him was dropped when he resigned last month.
“Following the events since my suspension it now seems impossible for them (FIFA) to say they were wrong although I wish they would have the courage to correct their mistake,” said Bin Hammam on Friday.
“Rest assured though that justice will eventually prevail whether through the ethics committee, the Court of Arbitration for 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.
“I remain confident the case and the evidence presented against me are weak and unsubstantiated,” said Asian Football Confederation president Bin Hammam.
“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 so.”
The committee, headed by Namibian judge Petrus Damaseb, is due to reach a verdict on Saturday.
It will hear reports from a probe conducted by Freeh Group International Europe, an investigative agency run by former FBI head Louis Freeh.
Bin Hammam has been suspended from all football-related activity since May 29 along with Minguell and Sylvester whose cases were also being heard yesterday.
It was not known whether Bin Hammam attended the hearing. He was not seen at the lakeside hotel often used by FIFA visitors, nor at the headquarters of world soccer’s governing body where only a handful of media were present.