Dubai: Former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam has appealed his lifetime ban from soccer for election bribery, saying Thursday his punishment was politically motivated.
Bin Hammam, also the suspended Asian Football Confederation president, wrote on his blog that he did not expect the FIFA Appeals Committee to overturn his ban but must go through that body as a protocol before taking his case to the Court of Arbitration of Sport.
"The panel from the Appeals Committee is decided by my opponent and in this case, as previously, the judge is the rival," bin Hammam wrote. "Therefore I should not exaggerate my hope for a fair decision."
Bin Hammam called FIFA's ruling "deeply flawed" but said he had "grave doubts" about whether FIFA's Appeals Committee is sufficiently independent to ensure a fair decision. He expected the appeal to take about two months.
"I will not rest no matter what tactical delays, forgery or biasness are put against me," Bin Hammam wrote. "I will continue my battle until I prove my innocence and that my suspension was a political decision and an absolute abuse of power to deprive me of my right to contest for FIFA presidency."
Last month, FIFA imposed the life ban on bin Hammam after finding him guilty of buying votes in his campaign to unseat Sepp Blatter as head of soccer's world governing body.
That came just months after he helped secure 2022 World Cup hosting rights for his home country Qatar.
The bribery scandal led to bin Hammam abandoning his campaign for the FIFA presidency and ultimately led to the veteran executive committee member becoming the most senior official convicted of corruption in the governing body's 107-year history.
He has denied allegations he gave cash to Caribbean officials in exchange for their vote in his bid to become FIFA president. He said the allegations were made because he was a threat to Blatter's re-election.
FIFA is investigating 16 Caribbean officials for their part in allegedly accepting $40,000 payments.
Bin Hammam said his appeal could broaden the probe, saying "I would not be surprised if another investigation will be opened."
The Qatari has managed so far to stave off being replaced as AFC president. The AFC last month decided not convene an extraordinary congress to elect a new president before May. It agreed to bin Hammam's request to wait for the outcome of his appeals.
The 19 delegates who met in July agreed to form a committee to "assess the current situation and advise and guide the AFC acting president in the business of the confederation," but no date was set to establish the ad-hoc committee.
Under AFC statutes, which only allow the position of president to be vacant for one year, an extraordinary congress and election must be held if bin Hammam's appeals aren't resolved by May 29, 2012.
But the executive committee had the option of voting for immediate action under a separate article of the AFC statutes, which allows it to convene an extraordinary congress "whenever deemed necessary."
First Published: Thursday, August 25, 2011, 21:39