Former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam won his appeal to stop a lifetime ban handed down last July by FIFA, according to multiple reports.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled Thursday that FIFA did not have sufficient evidence to levy the lifetime ban against Bin Hammam, who was accused of bribing officials for votes during his presidential campaign. The Court noted that its ruling was not an “”affirmative finding of innocence in relation to Mr. Bin Hammam.”
“The panel is doing no more than concluding that the evidence is insufficient in that it does not permit the majority of the panel to reach the standard of comfortable satisfaction in relation to the matters on which the appellant was charged,” the report said.
Bin Hammam has denied the allegations.
The charges against Bin Hammam, who is from Qatar and was the former head of the Asian Football Confederation, stemmed from alleged offers of cash for the votes of FIFA representatives from Caribbean countries. Witnesses apparently indicated that Bin Hammam and former FIFA vice president Jack Warner had provided envelopes containing $40,000 to the officials at a meeting of the Caribbean Football Union.
Bin Hammam ultimately dropped out of the race, and Sepp Blatter was re-elected as FIFA president.
In its ruling, the Court wrote that Bin Hammam was still likely behind the alleged bribes.
“This conclusion should not be taken to diminish the significance of its finding that it is more likely than not that Mr. Bin Hammam was the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad and Tobago and eventually distributed at the meeting by Mr. Warner.
“In this way, his conduct, in collaboration with and most likely induced by Mr. Warner, may not have complied with the highest ethical standards that should govern the world of football and other sports.
“The panel therefore wishes to make clear that in applying the law, as it is required to do under the CAS Code, it is not making any sort of affirmative finding of innocence in relation to Mr. Bin Hammam.
“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.”
Bin Hammam still faces charges of bribery from the Asian Football Confederation. FIFA plans to re-examine the case and then determine how to proceed.