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Sun 24 Jul 2011 07:55 AM

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Qataris lament Bin Hammam's fall from grace

Supporters say Bin Hammam’s reputation is intact, despite lifetime ban from FIFA

Qataris lament Bin Hammam's fall from grace
Mohammed Bin Hammam has received a lifetime ban from FIFA over claims he tried to buy votes ahead of the presidential election

Qataris lamented Mohamed Bin Hammam's spectacular fall from
grace on Saturday and said his reputation and legacy as president of the Asian
Football Confederation (AFC) would remain intact.

The 62-year-old Qatari has been banned for life after world
soccer's ruling body found him guilty of trying to buy votes ahead of last
month's FIFA presidential election, a race he later withdrew from.

"It's sad for all of Qatar, not just Mohamed,"
said Mohammed Johar, 50, head of logistics for the Al Jazeera sports channel in
Doha.

"We grew up together. He was president of my club, Al
Rayyan. From the beginning I never thought these charges were true. He faced
problems and tried to solve them honestly.

"He tried to do his best in Asia. The people will
remember him very well, not just in Qatar but in Asia and Africa as well,"
added Johar.

Bin Hammam, AFC president since 2002, was found guilty by
FIFA's ethics committee of bribery during a meeting with Caribbean officials in
Port of Spain, Trinidad in May.

"He's been involved with [football] for so long, his
whole life. Banning him is like killing him," Johar said.

Fellow Qatari Ahmed Abu Hamra, 18, added: "He doesn't
deserve it. It's not fair. Of course they would find him guilty, so he's not a
threat [for FIFA's presidency] in the future."

Bin Hammam, who has also been on FIFA's executive committee
since 1996, withdrew his presidential candidacy on May 29 and Swiss Sepp
Blatter was re-elected unopposed for a fourth term three days later.

The Qatari did not attend the two-day hearing at FIFA
headquarters in Zurich held on Friday and Saturday but was represented by two
lawyers as his life ban was handed down.

"Bin Hammam is okay. I've known him for over 30 years.
He tried to lift the sport and that was very important for him," said Ali
Hassan, 54.

Mohammed Salim, 40, added: "FIFA doesn't want him in
football. He has a strong personality and a lot of power. He's very smart. It
was dangerous for them.

"What he's done for Asian football in the last five
years is amazing. He made things happen there."

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Naveen Shetty 8 years ago

'There will not be smoke without fire'. The decisions of these kind are based on factual information/evidence rather than allegations alone. As the saying goes it will take years to narture a tree but it takes a moment of madness to destroy it.

Farah 8 years ago

I am surprised there are no criminal charges and prison sentence.