PtG Article 18.12.2012

“Bizarre ending” to FIFA vs. Bin Hammam

The long-running battle between FIFA and former Ex-Co member and Asian football president Mohamed Bin Hammam seems to have reached an end. In a statement yesterday, FIFA states that Bin Hammam has received a lifetime ban from world football based on the final report from the FIFA Ethics Committee.

On Thursday 13 December, the Guardian reported that FIFA had closed its investigation of Bin Hammam and alleged bribery of Caribbean football officials because of lack of evidence. FIFA continued to suspend bin Hammam on the charge of financial mismanagement at the AFC, and on Monday 17 December, these charges were the grounds for the final decision by FIFA to serve Bin Hammam with a final life ban. The statement read that Bin Hammam "will never be active in organised football again." 

Bin Hammam was first banned for life by FIFA back in 2011, accused of having tried to buy the votes of Caribbean football officials during the presidential election where he was going up against long-time president Sepp Blatter. 

Bin Hammam appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which overturned the ban in July 2012, stating that the evidence presented by FIFA was not comprehensive enough. But only a week later, Bin Hammam was presented with a new provisional ban from world football by FIFA and by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) after an audit of the AFC allegedly showed that Bin Hammam had accessed its funds for personal use.

FIFA opened up new investigations lead by its Chairman of the new Investigatory Chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee, Michael J. Garcia. 

Using current standards to sanction past behaviour

In monday's statement, FIFA writes that the life ban is based on the final report by Garcia, which “showed repeated violations of Article 19 (Conflict of Interest) of the FIFA Code of Ethics, edition 2012, of Mohamed Bin Hammam during his terms as AFC President and as member of the FIFA Executive Committee in the years 2008 to 2011, which justified a life-long ban from all football related activity”.

A ruling which journalist Roger Pielke Jr. finds to be less than straight forward: 

“The judgment is absolutely bizarre because bin Hammam's ban is apparently based on the application of ethics provisions passed in 2012 to his actions conducted 2005-2011. The application of current standards to sanction past behaviour was judged illegitimate by Sepp Blatter when he defended FIFA in the ISL affair, explaining that FIFA's kickbacks/bribes in that scandal were not then illegal under Swiss law,” Pielke writes on his blog. 

FIFA has neither made public the final report nor the evidence and actual charges against Bin Hammam, and Pielke argues that this goes to show that not much has changed:

“There is obviously much here outside the public view. The only thing that is perfectly clear is that FIFA has a long way to go on issues of due process and transparency. FIFA's actions on bin Hammam indicate that not much has changed in how FIFA does its business.”

Read the FIFA statement here

Read the story on Roger Pielke Jr.’s blog The Least Thing