Sport & Culture

A ‘Yellow Card’ for Asian Football Head?

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Sport & Culture

A ‘Yellow Card’ for Asian Football Head?

John Duerden notes a mixed victory for Mohamed Bin Hammam, whose lifetime ban was overturned.

It was a victory of sorts for Mohamed Bin Hammam.

In football parlance, he got the result he wanted even if the performance left something to be desired.

The former president of the Asian Football Confederation celebrated on Thursday as his lifetime football ban, imposed by FIFA in the summer of 2011, for alleged vote-buying in the election campaign to become FIFA president in May 2011, was overturned by The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.

It wasn’t exactly a full pardon as the court did more than hint that the Qatari was guilty.

"…it is more likely than not that Mr Bin Hammam was the source of the monies … [and that] his conduct … may not have complied with the highest ethical standards that should govern the world of football and other sports.”

The important part for Bin Hammam, who became the president of the AFC in 2002 and presided over nine years of rapid progress, was the part of the ruling which stated that FIFA’s Ethics Committee had insufficient evidence with which to establish guilt and that FIFA’s investigation into the affair "was not complete or comprehensive enough.”

This adds weight to Bin Hammam’s claim that he was banned for daring to challenge long-time FIFA boss Sepp Blatter in the May 2011 election. The Asian Football Confederation boss withdrew from the race just days before the vote was to take place.

In Doha, Bin Hammam told me in November that he had no intention of returning to the AFC or football in general and that he sought to clear his name and nothing more. Only he will know if that has been done.

He told the BBC that it was time to move on from football.

"My wish now is just to quit and retire. I've served football for 42 years–this last year I have seen a very ugly face of the sport and of football. I should have the benefit of the doubt.”

Even if he did want to take his old job, it is not that simple. Earlier this week he was suspended by the AFC for ‘financial irregularities.’

Following CAS’s decision, the AFC was quick to remind the world of that, issuing a press release which noted developments and said: “As far as AFC is concerned Mr. Bin Hammam remains under provisional suspension… for possible violations of the AFC statutes, AFC disciplinary code and AFC code of ethics.”