DOHA: Mohamed bin Hammam has said he intends to fight on to clear his name for a second time in the wake of decisions by first the Asian confederation and then world authority FIFA to chase down allegations of misuse of AFC funds while he was in full charge as president writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Bin Hammam’s status vis-a-vis the AFC president remains an issue of uncertainty after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overthrew a lifetime ban imposed last year by FIFA while he held the post. He is currently under a 90-day ban ordered by FIFA while it investigates the cash issues.
In a letter to AFC committee members Bin Hamman says: “My legal team has filed an immediate response to the actions of the AFC and FIFA in relation to my latest politically-motivated ban. I will announce further steps very shortly to challenge this clear abuse of power and process at the hand of FIFA.”
A recent report from auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers into the accounts of the AFC raised concerns over broadcast deals signed by Bin Hammam on behalf of the AFC with Al Jazeera and World Sports Groups. It also queried payments to several individuals. Bin Hammam details the reasons why the payments were made and states they were from his own accounts. He outlines five payments and insists all the payments were for welfare reasons.
Bin Hammam said in the letter: “All the information regarding these personal payments were in the report were I believe in a file, stolen from my office. Any assistance was personal in nature and from my heart.
“If [I am accused] of supporting you in some way that they believe is inappropriate, or supporting people who are in need and those who are suffering with my own funds, then let me declare that as a human being with the personal means to help and coming from a culture and society where this is seen as a duty, then I am proud of these accusations, and I welcome them.
“Your difficulties were, and still are, my difficulties and your sufferings are mine as well.”
Bin Hammam’s letter cites the names of five people he helped, including two who have since died of cancer, one who had open heart surgery; another for tuition fees for a FIFA programme, and the family of Jigme Gyalsen Lama, a 16-year-old from Nepal who died while playing football.
“Was it necessary for those who are behind the PWC report to dig the graves of the dead to achieve their political goals?” adds the letter.
Bin Hammam says he also made personal payments to Zhang Jilong, the current AFC president who ordered the PWC investigation.
The letter adds: “Dear friends, one last point, Jilong was one of those who came to me for financial support and I helped him with a significant amount from my personal account. I will leave him to explain the circumstances of this to you if he wishes.”
His letter also questioned why the AFC had hired the Freeh Group to investigate him when the Court of Arbitration for Sport had criticised the company’s investigation of Bin Hammam for FIFA last year and overturned the lifetime FIFA ban.
Bin Hammam has always claimed the FIFA action against him was retribution for having challenged president Sepp Blatter for the presidency last year. He was found guilty by FIFA’s ethics committee last year of paying bribes to Caribbean Football Union officials at a meeting in Trinidad while campaigning against Blatter for the FIFA presidency.
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