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Dec 17, 2012

Mohamed bin Hammam banned for life

LONDON -- Mohamed bin Hammam resigned from all soccer-related posts and received a new lifetime ban from FIFA on Monday, perhaps closing one of the most damaging corruption scandals to hit the sport's world governing body.

Bin Hammam, a FIFA executive committee member from Qatar who challenged incumbent Sepp Blatter for the presidency last year, gave up his long-running dispute with the organization after being found guilty by FIFA of "repeated violations" of its code of ethics while head of the Asian Football Confederation.

FIFA said the 63-year-old bin Hammam sent a resignation letter to both FIFA and the AFC on Saturday.

"Mr. Mohamed bin Hammam ... has resigned from all his positions in football with immediate effect and will never be active in organized football again," a FIFA statement said.

Bin Hammam, who has always denied wrongdoing, had no immediate comment on FIFA's announcement.

Controversy has swirled around bin Hammam in recent years -- he had also been fighting a separate life ban imposed by FIFA following allegations he offered bribes to voters when running against Blatter.

FIFA said the second life ban is a result of the final report from the chairman of its ethics committee, Michael J. Garcia.

"That report showed repeated violations of Article 19 (Conflict of Interest) of the FIFA Code of Ethics of Mohamed bin Hammam during his terms as AFC president and as member of the FIFA executive committee in the years 2008 to 2011, which justified a life-long ban from all football-related activity," the statement said.

According to the Malaysia-based AFC, a yearlong audit revealed "infringements" regarding the "execution of certain contracts" and tampering with the organization's bank accounts while president. As a result, Garcia and the AFC ordered probes into how bin Hammam managed the accounts.

The reputation of bin Hammam, who was elected AFC president in 2002, has been in tatters since a bribery scandal erupted in May 2011 -- a week before the FIFA presidential election.

The Qatari withdrew his bid just hours before FIFA provisionally suspended him, allowing Blatter to be re-elected unopposed.

FIFA used evidence from whistleblowers that pointed to bin Hammam handing out $40,000 in cash bribes to officials in each of 24 Caribbean soccer nations during his campaign visit to Trinidad. He was banned for life in July 2011, but that was lifted a years later by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. He denied any wrongdoing, claiming the FIFA investigations were politically motivated to protect Blatter.

Jack Warner, FIFA vice president and a veteran power broker in the north and central American and Caribbean (CONCACAF) region, was also implicated in the scandal that cost bin Hammam his position. Warner walked away from world soccer before FIFA concluded its probe into allegations of wrongdoing.

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