Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mohamed Bin Hammam Resigns From Presidential Election On The Eve Of FIFA Ethics Questions

Mohamed Bin Hammam has sensationally pulled out of the race to become the next President of FIFA, leaving Sepp Blatter as the only candidate left in the field ahead of the June 1st election.

The withdrawl comes just hours before the 62-year-old was due to face the FIFA Ethics Committee over allegations of collusion between his bid team and members of CONCACAF ahead of the 2022 election.

Bin Hammam is the current head of the Asian Football Confederation and masterminded Qatar's bid for the 2022 World Cup.

In March he confirmed to the Guardian newspaper that he was set to run against Blatter in the next Presidential election, advocating change at the highest levels of the organisation and a more transparent method to its labyrinthine business practices.

His election bid seemed to be going well, despite polls saying he was still behind Blatter, until early May when Chuck Blazer wrote to Jerome Valcke, FIFA general secretary, to complain about alledged violations in FIFA's code of ethics pertaining to Qatar's bid for the 2022 World Cup.

With mounting evidence against the bid and his proposed election and Bin Hammam summoned to appear before the FIFA Ethics Panel, the Qatari then went on the attack and seemingly admitted possible guilt in the matter by declaring "if I'm guilty then so is Blatter."

The Qatari businessman then took the step to also write to Valcke to ask that his investigation be extended to include Blatter as well.

Just one week ago, world respected football journalist, Keir Radnedge, wrote that Bin Hammam was caught between a rock and a hard place and would most probably be forced to resign from the Presidential race if Qatar were to stand any chance of retaining hosting permissions from FIFA for the 2022 World Cup.

Today, just hours before he was to stand before the FIFA ethics committee to explain the allegations from Blazer over Qatar and fellow CONCACAF members, Bin Hammam resigned from the race.

He released the following statement:

"I made the decision to run for the FIFA presidency because I was and remain committed to change within FIFA. I set out my goals and ambitions clearly - to further the cause of democracy within FIFA - through a commitment to transparency and accountability; through a commitment to expand the number of officials and nations involved in decision-making processes. 
"In addition to this, I wanted to spark a debate about change in FIFA. For the good of football, I wanted the future to be bright for our world’s governing body and for it to adapt to the ever-changing world we live in today. 
"However, recent events have left me hurt and disappointed - on a professional and personal level. It saddens me that standing up for the causes that I believed in has come at a great price – the degradation of FIFA’s reputation. This is not what I had in mind for FIFA and this is unacceptable. 
"I cannot allow the name that I loved to be dragged more and more in the mud because of competition between two individuals. The game itself and the people who love it around the world must come first. It is for this reason that I announce my withdrawal from the presidential election. 
"I will not put my personal ambition ahead of FIFA’s dignity and integrity. Besides, I believe my candidacy has been a catalyst for debate within FIFA and has brought change to the top of the agenda. 
"I pray that my withdrawal will not be tied to the investigation held by the FIFA Ethics Committee as I will appear before the Ethics Committee to clear my name from the baseless allegations that have been made against me. 
"I promise those who stood by me that I will walk with my head held high and will continue to fight for the good of the game. I would like to offer my thanks and appreciation to all member associations and individuals who supported me. I hope that they will not receive my decision with disappointment and frustration. 
"I have a special thank you to my friend and colleague Jack Warner for his unlimited support. I am sorry to see that he has to suffer because of me, but I am promising him that I will be with him all the way through thick and thin. 
"I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to restore FIFA’s reputation to what it should be - a protector of the game that has credibility through honesty, transparency and accountability."