LAUSANNE: Mohamed Bin Hammam started today the latest stage of his so-far vain challenge to FIFA president Sepp Blatter – and he was not even present.

The occasion was the first or two expected days of the Qatari’s appeal, in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, against a life ban from football imposed by the world football federation last year.

Bin Hammam, who had been president of Asian confederation, was punished over bribery allegations stemming from his appearance at a special conference of the Caribbean Football Union in Port of Spain in May 2011.

At the time Bin Hammam was only three weeks away from challenging Blatter in the FIFA presidential election. However, his distribution of cash for  expenses to the delegates created a scandal which brought short-term bans and punishments for around of the attendees and led to CFU and CONCACAF president Jack Warner quitting football altogether rather than face a FIFA ethics panel.

Bin Hammam did send his lawyers to face the ethics panel but he was banned from football life and had a protest rejected by FIFA’s own internal appeals committee. His suspension led to him being removed as president of the Asian confederation: CAS rejected a subsequent appeal against the AFC action.

This latest CAS hearing is seeing Bin Hammam represented, in his absence, by his Swiss and American lawyers. CAS has promised a verdict by the end of the month because of Bin Hammam’s concern about the AFC launching presidency elections; at present the AFC is being led by senior vice-president Zhang Jilong of China.

If CAS rules against Bin Hammam Рand his absence from Lausanne is  hardly a statement of confidence in his case Рhe has promised to pursue his cause in the Swiss federal court.

# # # #