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Jul 19, 2012

Bin Hammam ban overturned by CAS

Former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Mohamed Bin Hammam has had his lifetime FIFA ban rescinded by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

• Bin Hammam suspended by AFC

Bin Hammam was handed a lifetime ban by FIFA's ethics committee last year after being found guilty of paying cash gifts totalling close to $1 million to CONCACAF officials during his campaign to be elected the president of world football's governing body in 2011.

The Qatari withdrew his candidacy days before the election, paving the way for incumbent Sepp Blatter to continue unopposed for another four-year term.

However, the subsequent lifetime ban Bin Hammam received has now been overturned by CAS, after the court ruled that his appeal could be upheld because of a lack of evidence.

CAS did not, though, claim that he was innocent and FIFA is still free to bring fresh proceedings against him if new evidence is found. Bin Hammam will now likely turn his attention to a suspension imposed by the AFC earlier this week following a forensic audit of the governing body's accounts.

A FIFA statement swiftly condemned the CAS decision, saying: "FIFA has noted with concern the decision announced today by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the Mohamed Bin Hammam case.

"FIFA notes that the CAS verdict indicates that Mohamed Bin Hammam has not been proven innocent and that 'it is more likely than not that the Appellant (Mohamed Bin Hammam) was at the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad and Tobago and eventually distributed at the meeting' (of the Caribbean Football Union on 10 and 11 May 2011).

"...Moreover, FIFA has taken note of the decision by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) earlier this week to open a disciplinary case against Mohamed Bin Hammam and to provisionally suspend him from taking part in any football activity for another matter. The chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee extended this provisional suspension to worldwide level yesterday, 18 July 2012. Therefore, Mohamed Bin Hammam remains suspended until the current case has been concluded."

Eugene Gulland, speaking on behalf of Bin Hammam's legal team at Covington & Burling LLP, said: "We are delighted with the decision issued by the Court of Arbitration, rejecting all of FIFA's unfounded allegations of wrongdoing against Mr Bin Hammam, allowing his appeal and quashing FIFA's unjust life ban.

"Throughout this lengthy process Mr Bin Hammam has maintained his innocence and remained confident that he would be vindicated once the case was brought before an independent, third party body. Mr Bin Hammam will now carefully consider his options before making further comment.''

Bin Hammamhas told the BBC World Service's world football programme that he intends to walk away from the game once he has cleared his name.

"I promise you I will not quit until I clear my name," he said. "I have one aim, one mission, one target and that is to clear my name and then I say goodbye."

He added: "Frankly speaking what my wish is is to quit. I have served football more than 42 years and the last year I have seen a very bad, very ugly face of the sport and of the football. The jealousy... I will not talk about corruption and other things everybody is talking about. My wish now is just to quit and retire.

"When I have been falsely suspended I have really found myself: Mohamed Bin Hammam the man, the family man, the man of his friends, going back to my business, I have found peace in the last year and I wish to continue like it. I am 100% innocent in my actions in all the campaign and that was very important for me."

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