Skip to main content

FIFA suspends 2 officials, but clears president after ethics hearing

By the CNN Wire Staff
Mohamed bin Hammam had been the only challenger to FIFA's incumbent president, Sepp Blatter.
Mohamed bin Hammam had been the only challenger to FIFA's incumbent president, Sepp Blatter.
  • FIFA suspends its members Jack Warner and Mohamed Bin Hammam
  • Bin Hammam had been the lone challenger to President Sepp Blatter
  • After the same hearing, FIFA dismisses all charges "in full" against Blatter

(CNN) -- FIFA's ethics committee Sunday suspended two men, one of whom had been the sole challenger to the association's president until earlier in the day.

The committee cleared FIFA President Sepp Blatter who, like the other two, had been called into question at Sunday's ethics hearing, which centered on a bribery allegation.

"All charges were dismissed in full" against the Swiss national, who has led FIFA since 1998 and is now set to win another term as the lone contestant in Wednesday's FIFA presidential election, the FIFA statement said.

FIFA Vice President Jack Warner and executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam will not be part of the process, following their suspensions Sunday from taking part in any football-related activities.

A statement on FIFA's website said the pair's suspensions, both effective immediately though the investigation is ongoing, "was required (because of) the gravity of the case and the likelihood that an (ethics) breach ... has been committed."

FIFA's leadership crisis
Hammam on FIFA campaign transparency
UEFA's Michel Platini Speaks to CNN

Up through Sunday morning, Bin Hammam had been set to face off against Blatter, having run on a platform of bolstering the sport's "credibility through honesty, transparency and accountability." But he abruptly dropped out, writing early Sunday on his blog, "I cannot allow the (game) that I love to be dragged more and more through the mud, because of competition between two individuals" -- a reference to himself and Blatter.

Later Sunday, Bin Hammam blasted the ethics committee decision, which he said came after it "did not find this evidence sufficient to convict me. Consequently, I should have been given the benefit of the doubt."

"I have been given the impression that the ethics committee is absolutely an independent committee," the Qatari man said on his blog. "But ... we have seen today, General Secretary (Jerome Valcke) made clear that he is the one who has the influence in this committee."

Bin Hammam, 62, was a major influence in Qatar's surprising victory in winning the right to host the 2022 World Cup finals.

But he and Warner became a target for investigation after Chuck Blazer, general secretary of regional football organization CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, reported possible misdeeds during a May meeting in Trinidad.

The allegations concerned whether the duo offered cash gifts to national associations in return for pro-Bin Hammam votes in the presidential election.

Bin Hammam has denied any wrongdoing, claiming the allegations are all part of a conspiracy to discredit his bid to become FIFA president. Blatter wrote in his column for the Inside World Football website that he feels it is "ludicrous and completely reprehensible" to suggest he is behind the investigation.

While the Qatari ended his presidential bid Sunday, he did manage to get Blatter questioned at Sunday's hearing, after claiming the FIFA president was also named in evidence handed to the ethics committee.

After the committee cleared him, the 75-year-old Blatter released a statement acknowledging the decisions.

"I do not wish to comment in detail, but simply to say that I regret what has happened in the last few days and weeks. FIFA's image has suffered a great deal as a result," he said.