Former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam has won his appeal against a lifetime ban, as ruled Thursday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The CAS lifted a ban imposed by FIFA for allegedly bribing voters during his election challenge to Sepp Blatter last year. It ruled that a FIFA probe didn't find conclusive evidence.
But the court did not declare Bin Hammam innocent of corruption. Instead, it said in a statement. "It is a situation of 'case not proven,' coupled with concern on the part of the Panel that the FIFA investigation was not complete or comprehensive enough to fill the gaps in the record."
FIFA said its newly appointed prosecutor Michael J. Garcia will re-examine the case regarding Bin Hammam, a native of Qatar who was named to head the Asian Football Confederation in 2002 and after helping Qatar win hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup decided to run for FIFA president.
A scandal regarding the attempted buying of votes from Caribbean countries forced him to withdraw, and Blatter won re-election unopposed. But the CAS was not satisfied with the evidence presented. FIFA's code of ethics prohibits officials receiving cash gifts, yet during a meeting in Port of Spain Caribbean officials were given brown envelopes stuffed with piles of $100 bills as payment of bribes reported to be $40,000 apiece.
The panel, which was split 2-1 in his favor, "is not making any sort of affirmative finding of innocence in relation to Bin Hammam," the court said. "It is more likely than not that Mr. Bin Hammam was the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad & Tobago.