Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Bin Hammam fights FIFA-ordered ouster from AFC top spot

Reuters, DOHA

Mohammed Bin Hammam is refusing to resign as Asia soccer chief and has asked his colleagues for their patience as he tries to clear his name after being banned from soccer for life by FIFA on bribery charges last weekend.

In an open letter to the heads of the 46 member associations of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the Qatari, who has been replaced on a caretaker basis by China’s Zhang Jilong, appealed for understanding and support.

“I have all the right to fight against this shameful decision until I clear my name,” Bin Hammam wrote in a letter on AFC headed paper, which he posted on his blog late on Monday. “It may take some time before I go through the appeal committee of FIFA and the Court of Sports Arbitration (CAS) and possible other procedures.

“That means I will not render my resignation as AFC President and FIFA member representing Asia as far as the legal proceedings are continuing,” he said. “I am appealing for your understanding and appreciation for my cause and reasons and looking for your support to me until I prove my innocence.”

The 62-year-old was found guilty on Saturday of attempting to buy the votes of Caribbean Football Union officials in the run-up to last month’s FIFA presidential election, in which he had challenged incumbent Sepp Blatter before withdrawing shortly before the vote.

Bin Hammam, a FIFA executive committee member since 1996, could face a wait of several weeks or even months before a full report of the ethics committee’s sentence is made available and he can start his appeal.

The AFC executive committee is scheduled to meet at their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Friday under the continued temporary leadership of Zhang, who acknowledged on Sunday that the organization was suffering.

Despite Bin Hammam’s refusal to resign his positions, his presidential profile page on the AFC Web site could not be loaded yesterday and his name had been removed from the AFC executive committee list.

His appeal for support from his former colleagues is unlikely to receive public acknowledgment, but despite his experiences, the Qatari talked up the merits of an Asian leader as the head of soccer’s world governing body in future.

“The unjustified decision made by FIFA ethics committee ... was a result and direct consequence to my decision to contest for FIFA presidency,” Bin Hammam wrote.

“Although I did not continue my way through the election, I strongly believe that Asia based on its population, talent, love for football and strong economy is qualified to occupy the highest sports position world wide,” he added. “I hope you never give up your rights to contest for FIFA presidential seat in the future.”

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