AP Photo/Shirley Bahadur
Political Football
Bin Hammam calls on FIFA to include Blatter in investigation
FIFA presidential candidate denies any wrongdoing, claiming that allegations are part of a campaign to damage his electoral chances.

FIFA PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE Mohamed Bin Hammam has responded angrily to yesterday’s announcement that the global footballing body are investigating him for corruption, calling on the authorities to include his fellow candidate, the incumbent Sepp Blatter, in the ethics probe.

FIFA confirmed yesterday that Bin Hammam and Vice President Jack Warner would face an investigation at FIFA headquarters this Sunday, just three days before the association’s 208 national members vote in the presidential election on 1 June.

The allegations of bribery which Bin Hammam face relate to a meeting which he held on 10-11 May in Warner’s native Trinidad to lobby 25 Caribbean soccer leaders for their electoral support.

This evening’s statement said that Bin Hammam, who remains a member of FIFA’s Executive Committee, was “surprised by yesterday’s accusations of bribery”, confirming that “they are without substance.”

I am not at all afraid to answer any questions that the Ethics Committee may have for me at the hearing next Sunday. As long as the Committee guarantees a fair process, I have nothing to fear.

The statement also publicly raised Bin Hamman’s concern about the timing of FIFA’s announcement, indicating his belief that he is the victim of an unashamed electoral smear campaign.

“The timing of the accusations so close to the election of FIFA president on June 1, 2011 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.”

While he strenuously denies any wrongdoing, Bin Hamman’s statement also indicates that there are grounds for investigation of Blatter’s own conduct, calling on FIFA’s ethics committee to broaden the terms of their inquiry.

“The accusations also contain statements according to which Mr. Blatter, the incumbent FIFA president, was informed of, but did not oppose, payments allegedly made to members of the Caribbean Football Union. Mr. Bin Hammam has therefore requested that the investigation by the Ethics Committee be extended to include Mr. Blatter himself.”

FIFA are yet to issue a response to Bin Hammam’s statement.