Fifa meltdown: Warner and Hammam suspended
‘Evidence to justify bribery’ inquiry – but Lord Triesman’s allegations are thrown out
Fifa president Sepp Blatter is in the clear following allegations of corruption but executive committee members Mohamed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner have been suspended following a meeting of the governing body's ethics committee.
Petrus Damaseb, the Namibian judge chairing the committee, made the announcement at a press conference in Zurich on Sunday evening.
He said there was enough evidence to justify suspending Bin Hammam (above) and Warner after it was alleged by American executive committee member Chuck Blazer that they had offered cash bribes of up to $40,000 to members of the Caribbean Football Union [CFU] in Trinidad earlier this month in return for their votes in the forthcoming Fifa presidential election, which had pitted Hammam against Blatter.
"Mr Bin Hammam is hereby provisionally banned from taking part in any football-related activity until Fifa's ethics committee take a decision on this matter, and the same decision [applies to] Mr Jack Warner," said Damaseb.
Crucially, Damaseb went on to say that there were no evidence that Blatter knew of the alleged payments.
Fifa stated that they will conduct a full inquiry into the alleged corruption case, which also saw two members of the CFU - Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester – suspended.
However, Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke said that there was no substance to allegations made in the British parliament by Lord [David] Triesman recently that four of Fifa's executive committee members had asked for bribes earlier this year in return for supporting England's bid to stage the 2018 World Cup.
England lost out to Russia but Valke said the Football Association had investigated the claims and concluded that the quartet were "completely clean".
Valcke also insisted that Wednesday's presidential election will go ahead despite the fact that Hammam had withdrawn his candidacy on Sunday morning just hours before he was provisionally suspended.
In stepping aside, Hammam said: "I pray that my withdrawal will not be tied to the investigation held by the Fifa ethics committee as I will appear before the ethics committee to clear my name from the baseless allegations that have been made against me... I will not put my personal ambition ahead of Fifa's dignity and integrity."
As a result of Hammam's decision, 75-year-old Blatter is the only candidate and will therefore be elected to a fifth term of office.
According to German footballing legend Franz Beckenbauer, the re-election of Blatter – who has been Fifa president since 1998 – will be good for the game.
Speaking to BBC Radio Five Live, Beckenbauer said: "Fifa is like the United Nations - we have 208 members. It's not an easy job to handle, but I think Blatter and his staff are doing a wonderful job.
"The recent allegations were very damaging for the game, though. It's a disaster for football and I hope when June 1 comes and the election will be over, then all the discussion about corruption is finished and Fifa can go back to normal."
Others are not so sure as Beckenbauer. How Fifa goes back to normal – and what ‘normal' even means in Fifa terms – may not be solved for a long time to come.
Lord Triesman has yet to comment on his allegations being dismissed by Damaseb's committee. It is understood that he has no intention of withdrawing any of the claims he made under parliamentary privilege. ·
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