By Claire Ferris-Lay
Ex-Asian football chief says gift-giving is ‘normal practice’ in FIFA, not bribery
former Asian football chief Mohamed bin Hammam has likened FIFA president Sepp
Blatter to a “dictator” and said that bribery claims against him were the
result of cultural misunderstandings.
Hammam, who on Saturday was banned for life from all football-related
activities, compared his former FIFA rival to a tyrant during an interview with
you are in a position to lead, the leader usually doesn't revenge,” he said.
“This is actually the act of the dictators, and you have witnessed through
history the dictators, when they think this or that person is a prominent one
to replace him, the first thing they do is execute him.
they try to fabricate any allegation against him, to jail him or something like
mean usually - I don't know whether Mr Blatter considers himself a leader or not
- but the leader doesn't revenge.”
Hamman was found guilty of attempting to bribe members of the Caribbean
Football Union at a meeting in May. He was alleged to have offered each member
a cash gift of $40,000 in exchange for their votes in the FIFA presidential
forced to withdraw from the election on June 1 and Blatter was reelected for
another four-year term.
62-year old Qatari told Sky News that gift-giving is a routine practice in FIFA
and that exchanging gifts should not be considered bribery.
a normal, normal, normal practice,” he said. “I'm telling you again, I did not
give any cash gifts to anybody but these are normal.”
to his wrist watch, he added: “This watch is a gift.”
July 22 posting on his blog, Bin Hamman, claimed to already know the outcome of
the hearing. “It seems likely that FIFA has already made its decision
weeks ago. So, none of us should be completely surprised if a guilty verdict is
“Following the events since my suspension, it now seems impossible, for them to
say that they were wrong, although I wish they would have the courage to
correct their mistake,” he said.
This is FIFA's loss, and a loss to world football in general, because all the good Bin Hamman has done, all the tireless years of devotion and the incredible energy and inspiration he brought to the game are being wasted because of the vanity of the incumbent dictator.
It is inconceivable that a man of Bin Hamman's stature would stoop to something as petty a bribery and when he talks of gifts, you only have to live in the Arab world for a little while to know that, unlike in the West, a gift is usually given as a tribute and not a bribe. If FIFA is ever to recover its lost credibility, they should reinstate in Hamman, recall the voters and have a proper election. Having seen how Blatter colonised South Africa last year, it is he who should be facing extinction.