FIFA EXECUTIVE MOHAMED bin Hammam promised a strong defense at his bribery hearing today, when he seeks to provide “convincing grounds” of his innocence in a scandal that has tarnished the reputation of soccer’s world governing body.
Bin Hammam wrote on his official website Wednesday that his legal team is “working very hard” to show that he respected FIFA rules when meeting with Caribbean soccer leaders in Trinidad before his failed election challenge to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
The suspended Qatari official has been summoned before FIFA’s ethics committee in Zurich to answer charges based on whistleblowers’ evidence that he arranged $40,000 cash bribes in exchange for votes. He denies wrongdoing.
“Over the past seven weeks my legal team and I have been working very hard to provide convincing grounds that fair play was highly respected and observed throughout my election campaign,” said bin Hammam, who ended his candidacy three days before the June 1 vote.
The ethics panel said, in a leaked report, that it has “compelling” evidence of a bribery conspiracy involving bin Hammam and his former FIFA executive committee colleague Jack Warner.
Bin Hammam, who joined FIFA’s inner circle 15 years ago, said he expected — and deserved — a fair hearing “despite these clear attempts to besmirch my name.”
“I will not allow my own suspicions to dash my hopes or to make me think, as some would wish, that I will have to travel a long and hard road to clear my name of the stain of this politically motivated affair,” he wrote.
Bin Hammam faces a possible life ban from soccer if he is found guilty on Saturday, when the ethics panel is expected to deliver its verdict.
Today, the panel also will weigh charges leveled against two CFU staffers for their alleged role in distributing the cash payments following bin Hammam’s campaign visit May 10 in Port of Spain.