Former Fifa presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam has won his case against a life ban from football on for allegedly bribing voters during his challenge to SeppBlatter.
However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said its panel was not convinced bin Hammam is innocent of corruption - but it overturned the ban because Fifa’s investigation failed to find conclusive evidence.
“It is a situation of ‘case not proven,’ coupled with concern on the part of the Panel that the Fifa investigation was not complete or comprehensive enough to fill the gaps in the record,” sport’s highest court said in a statement.
Despite the legal victory, Bin Hammam’s bid to clear his name is far from over. Bin Hammam faces new charges of bribery at the Asian Football Confederation, which claimed this week that its president’s financial management was revealed in a forensic audit of the governing body’s accounts.
Fifa responded to the CAS verdict “with concern”, saying it will ask its newly appointed independent prosecutor Michael J. Garcia to re-examine the case.
“The Fifa Ethics Committee will then decide based on the reports and evidence presented to it if any action is required to be taken against Mohamed bin Hammam,” Fifa said in a statement. Bin Hammam’s victory at CAS will only partially restore his shattered reputation.
The panel, which was split 2-1 in his favor, “is not making any sort of affirmative finding of innocence in relation to Mr. Bin Hammam,” the court said. “It is more likely than not that Mr. Bin Hammam was the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad and Tobago” at an election campaign rally in May 2011.
Fifa got evidence from Caribbean whistleblowers who said they were offered $40 000 cash bribes during the 63-year-old Qatari’s electioneering visit. Bin Hammam denied wrongdoing, claiming Blatter helped orchestrate a scandal to guarantee his election victory unopposed a few weeks later.
The failure of Fifa’s prosecution at CAS comes after it hired an investigations agency led by former FBI director Louis Freeh to conduct the probe.