By Joanne Bladd
FIFA launches inquiry into claims Hammam offered bribes for votes in presidential race
FIFA has opened an investigation into allegations presidential contender Mohamed bin Hammam offered bribes to members of the Caribbean Football Union in exchange for votes in next week’s election.
Bin Hammam, the most vocal supporter of Qatar’s now-disputed 2022 World Cup win, has been accused alongside FIFA vice-president Jack Warner, soccer’s governing body said Wednesday.
The Qatari president of the Asian Football Confederation is challenging incumbent Sepp Blatter to become the new president of the sport’s world government body.
The news is the latest blow to the Zurich-based organization’s reputation. It’s already investigating corruption claims against six officials who voted during the bidding races for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Sepp Blatter and bin Hammam have been canvassing FIFA’s 208-nation membership ahead of a vote on June 1.
Bin Hammam, Warner and two officials from the Caribbean Football Union have been asked to attend a hearing with FIFA’s ethics committee after allegations made by executive committee member Chuck Blazer the agency said in a statement on its website Wednesday.
The statement said Blazer wrote to Valcke yesterday saying the officials violated FIFA’s ethics code at specially organized meeting between the Caribbean Football Union, which represents 30 soccer nations, and Bin Hammam earlier this month.
“In view of the facts alleged in this report, which include bribery allegations” Valcke called for the investigation, FIFA said.
The news comes days after Blatter refused to rule out a re-run of the vote to host the 2022 World Cup if allegations that Qatar paid millions of dollars in bribes to secure its win are proven.
A former member of the Qatar 2022 bid team allegedly told the Sunday Times the Gulf state paid FIFA members Issa Hayatou and Jacques Anouma $1.5m each to secure their vote.
The whistleblower is due to go before a panel in Zurich this week to give evidence in person.
Qatar’s bid team on Monday branded the corruption allegations as “completely false” and based on “worthless” evidence.
“These individuals… do not state when the alleged bribes were to be paid, how the negotiations with the individuals concerned had been conducted or crucially how they came to know of the alleged bribes,” the team said in a statement.
The allegations had been made by an “embittered ex-employee… plainly with a significant axe to grind”, the statement said.
The 62-year-old bin Hammam said earlier this month in a blog on his personal website that FIFA had been “dragged through the mud” over a rash of corruption claims that showed “something urgently needs to be done to improve and enhance" its image.
Hammam has made a grave misstake,
He dared go against Blatter who as been in the job long enough to know how to protect his interests Robert Magowy could learn from Blatter Good luck to Hammam he will need it