By Andy Sambidge
Qatar's FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam wins fight to extend probe to election rival
Football's governing body FIFA said on Friday that it would open an investigation into its president Sepp Blatter following a request by Qatar's Mohamed bin Hammam, who is seeking to unseat him in an election on June 1.
Bin Hammam and fellow FIFA board member Jack Warner are facing a May 29 ethics panel hearing into a meeting where bin Hammam is accused of handing out about $2m in cash to Caribbean soccer officials for "development" of the sport. Both deny the allegations.
Bin Hammam earlier said Blatter knew of any payments, and suggested the president be added to the investigation.
Now, FIFA’s ethics committee has invited Blatter to attend the hearing in two days, the Zurich-based organisation said in a statement posted on its website.
Bin Hammam said he’s asked for Blatter to be included in the probe because, as part of the evidence provided to FIFA, there were statements suggesting the FIFA president “was informed of, and did not oppose” the alleged payments.
“The timing of the accusations so close to the election of FIFA president on June 1 suggests that they are part of a plan to damage Mr Bin Hammam and force him to withdraw as a candidate for the FIFA presidency,” he said in the statement.
In a statement on Friday, FIFA said: "The FIFA Ethics Committee today opened a procedure against the FIFA President in compliance with article 16 of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
"No additional comments will be made by FIFA until further notice."