FIFA SUSPENDS BIN HAMMAM & WARNER AFTER ETHICS HEARING

Fifa has provisionally suspended executive committee members Mohamed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner after a meeting of its ethics committee on Sunday.

Football’s governing body will now open a full investigation into allegations that financial incentives were offered to members of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

CFU officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester have also been suspended.

But Fifa president Sepp Blatter was found to have no case to answer.

Petrus Damaseb, deputy chairman of the ethics committee, said of Bin Hammam and Warner: “We are satisfied that there is a case to be answered.”

However, Fifa insists that they are innocent until proven guilty.

If found guilty, they could be expelled from the organisation and banned from all football activity.

Bin Hammam was the only candidate due to oppose Blatter in the forthcoming election for the Fifa presidency but he withdrew in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke confirmed that Wednesday’s election would go ahead unless three-quarters of the 208 delegates voted to change the agenda.

It leaves Blatter clear to seek a fourth term in charge of the organisation, which he has run since 1998, unopposed.

“I am not Fifa, I can’t change the agenda,” Valcke said. “It is up to the delegates — they have the final say.”

“I don’t see what is wrong with this election with Mr Sepp Blatter.

“I think the most important thing is a commitment from all the members of the Fifa ExCo with the president to support a change within Fifa and in his last mandate make sure that Fifa is stronger and cleaner than it was.

“Maybe we can have the top guys around the world come to put things in place to stop these things from happening again.”

The Qatari and his colleague, Fifa vice-president Warner, were forced to answer charges of bribery over allegations from executive committee member Chuck Blazer in Zurich on Sunday.

It was alleged that they offered bribes at a meeting of the CFU on 10 and 11 May.

A file of evidence claimed bundles of cash of up to $40,000 (£24,200) were handed over to members of the CFU at the meeting in Trinidad.

The payments were allegedly made to secure votes for Bin Hammam in his campaign to challenge Blatter for the presidency.

In turn, Bin Hammam effectively claimed Blatter was aware of some wrongdoing but did not report it, in itself a breach of Fifa’s ethics code.

But Damaseb said the committee took the view that the obligation to report did not arise because at that stage no wrongdoing had occurred.

After the meeting, Blatter said in a statement: “The Fifa ethics committee has reached its decisions.

“I do not wish to comment in detail. But simply to say that I regret what has happened in the last few days and weeks.

“Fifa’s image has suffered a great deal as a result, much to the disappointment of Fifa itself and all football fans.”

Warner said he was shocked and surprised by the decision to provisionally suspend him.

“I will vigorously defend my reputation as well as the reputation of the rest of the Caribbean members,” he said in a lengthy statement.

Asked if this was the lowest point in Fifa’s 107-year history, Valcke replied: “The reputation of Fifa? Maybe it’s not at the highest, that’s clear. It’s sad.

“Definitely, there is a need for change. I’m not the Fifa president so he is the one who must decide what he wants to do and Fifa must make the necessary changes so that the institution has systems in place to avoid something like this happening again.

“This is the pattern of the work which we have to do very quickly in the next few months.”

(Article from http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/13590264.stm )

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