Chuck Blazer Under Investigation By FBI

FIFA has banned Mohamed bin Hammam for life, making him the third member of the FIFA executive committee to be suspended in the last nine months and the most senior official to ever be suspended for corruption in the governing body's 107-year history

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FBI Investigating Financial Records Of Chuck Blazer

The FBI is investigating documents detailing over $500,000 in disbursements sent by a Caribbean soccer group directly to FIFA U.S. executive committee member, Chuck Blazer, according to reports. Blazer also serves as the general secretary of CONCACAF -- soccer's leading body within the Caribbean, as well as North and Central America. The FBI would not disclosed a timetable or the severity of its investigation.

FBI officials explained that the inquiry was associated with a report released by London journalist Andrew Jennings last week. Jennings -- an investigative specialist within the realm of corruption in international sports -- detailed several documents that allocated Blazer to receive the three offshore payments over the last 15 years.

These payments include a January 29, 1996 letter addressed from Caribbean Football Union president Jack Warner, ordering the vice president of an unspecified bank to transfer $57,750 to Blazer. Also included are documents that detail a $250,000 payment made by the Caribbean Football Union to Blazer earlier this year.

In response to the allegations, Blazer condemned Jennings' story as error-riddled, while claiming that the reporter had a "clear agenda."

But Blazer did not deny receiving three offshore payments, totaling more than $500,000. Instead, Blazer insisted that "all of my transactions have been conducted legally."

"In the past few weeks I have learned that Mr. Warner treated the CFU accounts as his personal accounts and co-mingled a variety of funds in those accounts," Blazer said. He said he was now "working with the current CFU administration to bring in forensic accountants to attempt to untangle this mess."

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FIFA Bans Mohamed Bin Hammam For Life

FIFA has banned Mohamed bin Hammam from football for life, making the Qatari the most senior FIFA official to have been convicted of corruption in the 107-year history of the world football governing body. The ethics committee handed down their punishment after months of investigation that showed bin Hammam had offered up $40,000 bribes in exchange for votes in the FIFA presidential election. It is expected that bin Hammam will now take his case to the FIFA appeals committee and if unsuccessful there, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

It was alleged that bin Hammam offered up bribes to members of the Caribbean Football Union in his quest to unseat Sepp Blatter as FIFA president. It came just months after he helped Qatar shockingly win the right to host the 2022 World Cup, which cemented his status as a major powerbroker in world football and a threat to Blatter's reign. Evidence compiled by FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer started the investigation and FIFA claimed to have found additional evidence afterward that confirmed bin Hammam's guilt.

The ruling was made after an initial hearing in May that saw bin Hammam suspended indefinitely, subsequent investigation and a hearing over the last two days. As per FIFA rules, bin Hammam was informed of the charges brought against him and welcomed to attend the hearing to defend himself, but the Qatari did not appear.

According to panel chairman Petrus Damaseb, the hearing "was in keeping with the declared policy of the committee to show zero tolerance of unethical behavior."

Ever since he was accused, bin Hammam has maintained his innocence and said that the charges were a political move by Blatter to derail bin Hammam's presidential campaign, allowing Blatter to win a fourth term as head of FIFA. The scandal did force bin Hammam to withdraw his candidacy, although his indefinite suspension would have made him ineligible to run anyways.

With the ethics committee having ruled, bin Hammam can now take his case to the five-member FIFA appeals committee. They can overturn his suspension, as can the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which he can appeal to if the appeals committee does not rule in his favor. According to Eugene Gulland, bin Hammam's lead counsel, he will continue to fight the charges.

"[bin Hammam] will continue to fight his case through the legal routes that are open to him.," Gulland said. "The FIFA ethics committee has apparently based its decision upon so called 'circumstantial' evidence, which our case has clearly demonstrated was bogus and founded on lies told by a senior FIFA official. We are confident of the strength of our case and invite FIFA to make available now to the media a full transcript of these proceedings."

In addition to being an executive committee member who was running for president, bin Hammam was also the president of the Asian Football Confederation. Now he is just the third executive committee member to be suspended for corruption in the last nine months.

Two members of the Caribbean Football Union who were also implicated in bin Hammam's bribery attempt were each suspended by the ethics committee for one year. The panel also recommended that FIFA open investigations into three other member who allegedly assisted bin Hammam in his bribery attempt, while investigations into several other members who allegedly accepted the bribes continue.

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FIFA Uncovers New Evidence On Mohamed Bin Hammam

The Mohamed bin Hammam bribery scandal just won't go away and now it is just getting bigger. FIFA has uncovered additional evidence that bin Hammam offered cash bribes to voters prior to the FIFA presidential election. The Qatari was running for president, but resigned following the bribery investigation and he was later provisionally suspended until the investigation was complete. A final decision on his status in world football will come at a hearing on July 22 and 23 in Zurich, Switzerland, where a lifetime ban could be issued.

Originally, four associations admitted to accepting or being offered $40,000 cash bribes that the FIFA ethics committee said was part of "comprehensive, convincing and overwhelming evidence" that bin Hammam had violated FIFA rules. Now the number of associations that have told investigators that they were offered bribes is up to nine. Allegedly, $1 million has been paid out in bribes.

The investigation was conducted by ex-FBI director Louis Freeh and everything he has been found has been turned into the judge leading the FIFA ethics committee probe, Robert Torres. He has forwarded his report onto bin Hammam, who will be able to argue against any charges in writing, present evidence and bring in witnesses at the hearing if he chooses. It is expected that bin Hammam will fight all charges considering that he has insisted that he is innocent since the investigation first began. 

The scandal started when FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer sent evidence to FIFA that included photos and sworn affidavits of bin Hammam's attempt to bribe voters to vote for him. The incident occurred at the Caribbean Football Union meetings and also led to three others being investigated by the FIFA ethics committee. Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner had his investigation dropped when he agreed to resign from all football-related posts, while two CFU will also be at the hearing on June 22 and 23.

Warner has yet to meet with investigators despite agreeing to comply with any investigation when he resigned from football-related activities. 12 other Caribbean associations did not meet with investigators either. Carlos Prowell, vide-president of the Guyana federation was not one of them and he spoke about what he witnessed at the CFU meetings.

"Mr. Bin Hammam came and made his presentation and talked about what he wanted to do about football. After that we were told to go to collect our gifts - it is normal to receive token gifts at all football functions from FIFA, CONCACAF and CFU.

"I was in the lobby and saw some of the other guys coming out with brown envelopes. I did not know what was inside the envelope but was told by one them it contained cash.  We didn't know how much inside the envelopes - only later when we read about it in the media. We took a collective decision not to receive the gifts. I am a banker by profession and therefore anything that I do must be above board and very clear. I think people from the other federations may have accepted their gifts in good faith."

It appears as if bin Hammam can keep arguing his innocence all he wants, but the FIFA ethics committee will not agree. Considering the bribery charges, odds are that he is facing a lifetime suspension, meaning overhaul in the Asian Football Confederation, of which he was the president.

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FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner Resigns

So much for that tsunami of football, eh Jack? Jack Warner, former head of CONCACAF and FIFA vice-president, has resigned his various positions in international football and walked away from FIFA. This conveniently happened after a major scandal saw Sepp Blatter maintain his position as President by running unopposed in an election and left Warner facing corruption allegations (along with supposed-to-be-presidential-candidate Mohamed bin Hammam).

It's a very odd situation that has the ring of Warner falling on his own sword so as not to be embarrassed by the impending FIFA investigation - one which would have both parties looking worse than Carlos Tevez on a bad hair day. With Warner no longer part of FIFA, the charges against him have been dropped, as the statement released by FIFA gleefully points out:

The FIFA Executive Committee, the FIFA President and the FIFA management thank Mr Warner for his services to Caribbean, CONCACAF and international football over his many years devoted to football at both regional and international level, and wish him well for the future.

As a consequence of Mr Warner’s self-determined resignation, all Ethics Committee procedures against him have been closed and the presumption of innocence is maintained.

So, Warner has resigned rather than face a serious corruption charge, and because he resigned, he clearly is not corrupt. Got all that? Good.

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Sepp Blatter Wins Re-Election as FIFA President

Apparently it's much easier to win elections when you don't have an opponent. I should try that out sometime. Sepp Blatter has won re-election to the FIFA presidency by the count of 186 votes to none (that's 20 abstentions, for the curious), which means he's sticking around for another four years in his attempt to enrich himself and annoy overly self-righteous people the world over.

Blatter, of course, weathered a challenge from CAF head Mohamed bin Hammam after getting him suspended after allegations of corruption, which was considerably easier than the much messier process of actually winning an election against him. Although the English FA led the charge to have the election postponed after realising that Blatter needed one vote to guarantee four more years of the presidency, the rest of the world didn't seem particularly interested, and so it went ahead with one name on the ballot box.

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Argentina To England: Give Us The Falklands Back, Then We'll Vote For You

Hilarious. When the English FA attempted to drum up support for their 2018 World Cup bid, they were forced to talk to Argentina about backing them. Now, England and Argentina aren't best friends in terms of football - they've long been fairly closely matched in terms of talent (although Argentina have pulled away of late), and England haven't quite gotten over Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' goal in 1986. Oh, and there was the matter of the Falklands War, where Argentina tried to repossess the islands and were rather forcibly repelled by the Royal Navy and company. They really didn't like that.

And if you think any of the ill-will from a war more than 25 years ago had dissipated... wrong! When asked if he'd be willing to back England's bid, Julio Grondona said he'd be more than happy to do so - assuming the United Kingdom handed the Falklands over to Argentina. Apparently the FA representative was 'sad' to hear that - the correct response is probably 'If we conquered you, we'd get Lionel Messi, right?'

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FIFA Refuses To Postpone Presidental Election

You didn't think the demand from the England FA that the FIFA presidential election should be postponed would actually happen, did you? Because it most definitely hasn't. FA chief David Bernstein put the matter to a vote following Mohamed bin Hammam's ineligibility to run against incumbent Sepp Blatter, leaving Blatter to run unopposed, but Bernstein received just 17 out of 206 possible votes in favour of a postponement, with a further 17 abstentions. Worse, several took the opportunity to dismiss Bernstein out of hand as a whiner, with senior vice-president Julio Grondona seemingly relishing the chance to mock the English:

We always have attacks from England which are mostly lies with the support of journalism which is more busy lying than telling the truth. This upsets and disturbs the Fifa family. It looks like England is always complaining so please I say will you leave the Fifa family alone, and when you speak, speak with truth.

The election will go ahead as planned and Sepp Blatter will run unopposed (and presumably he'll win). It's worth remembering that while Blatter is wildly unpopular in English-speaking areas of the world, the attitudes of those elsewhere towards him are markedly different, and it shouldn't come as any surprise that so many FAs are supporting him. This, in other words, was a bit of a fool's errand by Bernstein.

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FIFA Corruption Scandal Whistleblower Chuck Blazer Not Fired By CONCACAF Afterall

Chuck Blazer was fired as CONCACAF general secretary, then he wasn't. It is just another day in world football, be it in FIFA or one of its confederations like CONCACAF. Blazer was the whistle-blower who compiled the evidence leading to the suspension of four by FIFA and as a reward for his ethical actions he was fired by the CONCACAF acting president Lisle Austin. The only problem is that the acting president had no authority to suspend Blazer so the American gets to keep his job.

"This attempted action was taken without any authority," a statement from CONCACAF read. "Under the CONCACAF Statutes, jurisdiction over the General Secretary rests solely with the CONCACAF Executive Committee which has taken no action. Further a majority of the Executive Committee Members have advised Mr. Austin that he does not have the authority to take such action. Chuck Blazer continues as CONCACAF General Secretary and with the full authority of his office."

Blazer found out about Mohamed bin Hammam, Jack Warner and two members of the Caribbean Football Union's attempt to bribe officials ahead of Wednesday's FIFA presidential election. He proceeded to compile evidence with the help of a member of FIFA's legal committee and sent evidence that included signed affidavits and photographs to FIFA. It resulted in all four being suspended from FIFA, ruling bin Hammam out from running for FIFA president, as he planned, and forced Warner to step down as CONCACAF president.

Now the real question needs to be asked. What is more ridiculous? Is it that Blazer would be fired for reporting bribery, as FIFA rules and basic ethics would dictate, or that a confederation president has no idea what his authority is or bothers to ask before making major decisions?

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Chuck Blazer Fired By Acting CONCACAF President

Chuck Blazer's reward for doing the seemingly ethical thing and compiling evidence of bribery to send to FIFA is a firing. Acting CONCACAF president Lisle Austin announced that he had fired Blazer as general secretary of the confederation for what he termed, ''inexcusable and a gross misconduct of duty and judgment." Whether or not Austin has the authority to fire Blazer is unclear.

Blazer's bribery allegations led to Mohamed bin Hammam, Jack Warner and two members of the Caribbean Football Union all being provisionally suspended from all football-related activities. The suspension ruled out bin Hammam for running for FIFA president, as he intended to, and also led to Warner not being able to continue with his post as CONCACAF president. With Warner out, Austin has stepped in and acted as president.

The question is whether or not Austin can fire Blazer. He is only acting president of the confederation and Blazer is a member of FIFA's executive committee. FIFA president Sepp Blatter and FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke have been made aware of the firing, but have not commented on it.

Austin deemed Blazer unfit to be the confederation's general secretary for his allegations. Blazer's whistle-blowing included a package sent to FIFA that included signed affidavits and photographic evidence of the bribery. Apparently the only ethics-related actions deemed punishable within world football nowadays are those with morals.

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FA Ask FIFA To Postpone Election

The English FA has already told FIFA that they'd be abstaining from the upcoming presidential election due to neither candidate being particularly attractive from the not (allegedly) hideously corrupt standpoint, and recent events have only served to make them even more cranky. As a result, they're leading the call for FIFA to postpone the upcoming presidential election, in which incumbent Sepp Blatter is now the only candidate:

Events of the last few days have reinforced our views, and we call on Fifa and ask other national associations to support us with two initiatives.

First, to postpone the election and give credibility to this process, so any alternative reforming candidate could have the opportunity to stand for president...

At this point, if I were Sepp Blatter, I would respond with: 'In light of the request by the English FA, FIFA will postpone the upcoming Presidential election until June of 2015.' If you're going to be an evil troll, you might as well go whole hog, eh?

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Let's Talk FIFA And Sepp Blatter

Yes, FIFA are corrupt. But fans would be better off relegating Sepp Blatter and company to the dustbin of irrelevance than ignoring the games to focus on the organization.

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Photo Of $40,000 Bribe In FIFA Scandal Revealed

Some good work by Martyn Ziegler has revealed one key photo in the evidence against Mohamed bin Hammam, Jack Warner and two member of the Caribbean Football Union. The four were accused of offering $40,000 bribes in exchange for votes in the upcoming FIFA presidential election after FIFA vice-president Chuck Blazer compiled evidence and sent it to the FIFA ethics committee. It led to the provisional suspension of all four as the ethics committee continues to investigate the matter. In the file of evidence was this photo of the cash offered in the bribe.

    Pic_of_the__40_000_cash_paid_to_the_bahamas_fa_that_sparked_the__fifa_bribery_claims_medium

The scandal is just another in a long list of allegations of corruption within FIFA. The suspension of bin Hammam, Asian Football Confederation president, ruled him out of Wednesday's election for FIFA president and has left the incumbent, Sepp Blatter, as the only candidate. With evidence like the photo above and sworn affidavits that the money was offered as part of a bribe it is unclear what further investigation the ethics committee needs.

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Shocker! Sepp Blatter Denies That FIFA Are In Crisis

Nine of FIFA's 24-member executive committee have been accused of corruption in the past seven months. Two members of the executive committee have been suspended from FIFA for two years for accepting bribes and two FIFA vice-presidents who are also presidents of FIFA confederations are provisionally suspended in connection to a bribery case. The FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, had proceedings opened against him by the FIFA ethics committee. The FIFA general secretary wrote to one of the suspended vice-presidents that Qatar "bought the WC [World Cup]." Even so, FIFA are just fine!

In a press conference to address the recent wrongdoings, Blatter flatly denied that FIFA were in crisis. Who needs executives anyways?

"Crisis, what is a crisis? Football is not in a crisis.," Blatter said. "We are not in a crisis, only in some difficulties."

So at what point do difficulties become a crisis for FIFA? When the money starts running out, of course. People can mock FIFA all the way, but they are still rolling in billions of dollars and cashing checks left and right so where is the crisis?

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FIFA, Qatar Deny World Cup Was Bought & Will Not Investigate

When FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke's email to FIFA vice-president Jack Warner was released, the key phrase came towards the end where Valcke said that Qatar "bought the WC [World Cup]." It seemed to be confirmation of many people's suspicions that the small Arab country had bribed voters to win the right to host the 2022 World Cup prior to being awarded the tournament in December. Both Valcke and Qatar are denying that the World Cup was bought though and are showing no interest in investigating the matter further.

Valcke, whose email supposedly served as confirmation that the World Cup was bought, denied the claim. He said that it was a private email taken out of context and that he would discuss the matter further.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter went even further, refusing to even look into the issue. Blatter defiantly stated in a press conference that, "there is no issue for the World Cup 2022."

As expected, Qatar also denied any wrongdoing. They maintained that they won the right to host fairly, but they too appear confused by Valcke's email in a statement released by the organizing committee.

"Qatar 2022 categorically deny any wrong doing in connection with their winning bid.," the statement read. "We are urgently seeking clarification from FIFA about the statement from their general secretary. In the meantime we are taking legal advice to consider our options."

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FIFA General Secretary Says 2022 World Cup Was Bought By Qatar

An email between FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke and CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner states that Qatar bought the right to host the 2022 World Cup. The email adds credence to the belief by some that Qatar bribed their way to winning the right to host back in December and is just another in a long list of allegations that FIFA suffers from corruption.

The email between Valcke and Warner was regarding Mohamed bin Hammam, who was running opposite of incumbent Sepp Blatter for FIFA president. The Qatari ruffled some feathers within FIFA by daring to challenge Blatter, but the tail end of the email in which Valcke implies that Qatar bought the right to host the World Cup.

In Valcke's email to Warner, he wrote, "...he [bin Hammam] thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the WC [World Cup]."

With bin Hammam withdrawing from the race for FIFA president amidst allegations he bribed Caribbean officials in exchange for votes in the presidential election, the idea of buying FIFA is understandable. The second part of the email implies that the Qatar bid, of which bin Hammam was a strong supporter, bought the right to host.

The small Arab nation was considered a longshot by many to host the tournament when they announced their intent to bid on the world's biggest sporting event. The odds on Qatar winning the right to host were made even longer when FIFA's inspection report on the country and its bad scored worse than any of its competitors. Even so, when the FIFA executive committee went to vote on the host, Qatar came away winners and won the right to host the 2022 tournament.

Prior to the vote, two members of the executive committee were suspended for accepting bribes. Now, nine of the 24-member executive committee have been accused of corruption in the last seventh months, with four of them being suspended and even Blatter has had ethics proceedings opened against him.

Despite suggestions that FIFA should reopen bidding for the 2022 World Cup and revote, especially from the other hosting candidates, there is no indication that will happen. The United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan lost out to Qatar in the biding process.

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Jack Warner Hits Back At FIFA After Suspension

Jack Warner, CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president, was provisionally suspended from FIFA on Sunday, but he did not take his punishment quietly. The FIFA ethics committee conducted a hearing regarding allegations that Warner, Mohamed bin Hammam, Asian Football Confederation president and FIFA vice-president, and two members of the Caribbean Football Union were involved in offering bribes. While the ethics committee did not come to a definite conclusion, they found enough information that they saw fit to ban all four from all football-related activity pending further investigation.

Warner, never shy or lacking confidence, hit back at FIFA. The man from Trinidad and Tobago was upset that he was not given a list of the allegations before the hearing, that he found out about the suspension through the media and, of course, that he was suspended at all, claiming that he did nothing wrong.

"I have learned this evening via the media that I have been provisionally suspended by the FIFA Ethics Committee. This has come both as a shock and surprise to me," a statement from Warner read.

"...I also indicated that at the Miami CONCACAF Congress on May 3rd, Mr. Blatter made a gift of  one million USD to CONCACAF to spend as it deems fit. This annoyed President Michel Platini who was present and he approached Secretary General Jerome Valcke complaining that Mr Blatter had no permission from the Finance Committee to make this gift to which Jerome replied that he will find the money for Mr Blatter.

"I also indicated at the CFU meeting held in Trinidad on May 10 which was requested by Mr. Bin Hammam, FIFA through Mr. Blatter organised gifts of laptops and projectors to all members of the Caribbean and no objections have been made today of this to date. In my statement I attached letters from thirteen Federations whose members attended the CFU Meeting where the allegations of gifts were made.

"These statements from the 13 members denied the allegations that have been made against me and any participation of these individuals in the act complained of. While with regard to the allegation of payment only one statement was submitted by Collins & Collins.

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Sepp Blatter May Not Be In The Clear Yet

A day after his only competitor in Wednesday's election for FIFA president withdraw from the race, Sepp Blatter was cleared by the FIFA ethics committee of any wrongdoing. Days away from being elected to his fourth term as head of football's world governing body it appears as if all is well for Blatter, right? Maybe not quite. While the ethics committee may have cleared him of any wrongdoing, they did not completely close the door on the matter.

Blatter's former challenger for FIFA president, Mohamed bin Hammam, was among three provisionally suspended by the ethics committee for reported briberies in exchange for presidential votes. The other three people involved are CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and two members of the Caribbean Football Union. The four are alleged to have been involved in a scheme that saw as much as $40,000 in cash handed over.

Once the ethics committee opened an investigation into bin Hammam and the three others, bin Hammam asked the ethics committee to include Blatter in the investigation as well. The Qatari accused Blatter of knowing about the bribery scheme and not reporting it, which is against FIFA rules. 

While the ethics committee provisionally suspended bin Hammam and the three others, Blatter was cleared because he could not report what had yet to be committed. Under that logic, Blatter cannot be accused of knowing of and not reporting a bribery that had yet to be proven as committed. If further investigation does prove that the bribery did happen, it is reasonable to think that the ethics committee could reopen the case against Blatter and determine whether or not he knew about the scheme.

All of this talk is about FIFA, which is hardly the most ethical of groups. It is also headed by a man who is about to win a fourth term atop the totem pole so expecting the ethics committee to reopen and charge Blatter might be wishful thinking, but there is a scenario in which he is not completely in the clear yet.

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FIFA Presidential Election Will Not Be Postponed

With FIFA in the midst of great turmoil following the investigation of its current president and suspension of two FIFA vice-presidents, there was speculation that the FIFA presidential election scheduled for June 1 might be postponed. That will not be the case, according to FIFA's secretary general, Jerome Valcke. The election will go on as planned and with the incumbent, Sepp Blatter, as the only remaining candidate, it appears as if he will win a fourth term as head of football's world governing body unopposed.

Mohamed bin Hammam had been the only challenger to Blatter, but when the FIFA ethics committee opened an investigation into allegations that he had offered bribes in exchange for votes, the Qatari withdraw from the election. On Sunday, it was announced that bin Hammam, along three others alleged to have taken part in the bribery, had been provisionally suspended while the ethics committee continues to investigate the matter.

With nobody to challenge Blatter and Blatter also being investigated for violating FIFA rules, although he was cleared, there were suggestions that the election should be postponed. Valcke rejected that idea though. 

"Why?" he asked. "Because the media are trying to say we should? What has happened is perfectly clear."

So FIFA will vote on Wednesday for a new FIFA president, but their only option will be their current president. Not that this will be anything new. Blatter won his last election for president unopposed as well.

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Sepp Blatter Cleared Of Corruption Charges; Mohamed Bin Hamman And Jack Warner Suspended

Well what did you think was going to happen as a result of the FIFA corruption scandal? Mohamed Bin Hammam and Jack Warner have been suspended from all FIFA activities pending a full inquiry into their behaviour, but President Sepp Blatter had all charges against him dropped because - and you'll love this - he said they weren't true. He will now be able to run opposed in the Presidential election next week (Bin Hammam was his only challenger), and FIFA have said they have no intention of delaying said election.

At some point, you have to see the funny side of all of this or we'll all just go insane. FIFA are a farce, and are so ludicrously corrupt that they've gone all the way back over into transparency, but fortunately they're a mostly irrelevant farce, so it's all ok. Don't get too worked up about it - just sit back and enjoy the hilarity.

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Mohamed Bin Hammam Withdraws From Race For FIFA President

The corruption investigation that was supposed to clean up FIFA and clear it of its most unsavory characters may have had the opposite effect. It may have handed its leader another four years atop the FIFA food chain. Under investigation by the FIFA ethics committee for bribery, Mohamed bin Hammam has withdrawn from the race for FIFA president. The Asian Football Confederation president was the only challenger to incumbent Sepp Blatter and now Blatter could win the presidency uncontested. 

"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," Bin Hammam said in a statement.

"I cannot allow the game that I love 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."

On Thursday it was announced that the ethics committee had opened an investigation into bin Hammam, CONCACAF president Jack Warner and two members of the Caribbean Football Union after FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer compiled evidence that allegedly proves they were involved in offering bribes in exchange for votes in the presidential election.

On Friday, bin Hammam asked the ethics committee to also open an investigation into Blatter, claiming that he knew about the bribes and broke FIFA rules by not reporting them. The ethics committee opened proceedings against Blatter and he will join bin Hammam and the three others in an ethics committee hearing on Sunday.

Blatter won reelection last time around uncontested and looks set to win a fourth term on June 1 uncontested again. That is unless he is suspended from FIFA by the ethics committee and is then ineligible to run. Some have already called for FIFA to postpone the election because it has become a farce with these corruption allegations.

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Jack Warner Warns Of FIFA... Something?

If you've been following FIFA internal affairs for any time a) I'm sorry, and I feel your pain and b) you must have noticed that CONCACAF head Jack Warner has a very odd turn of phrase. He's been fingered by Chuck Blazer in the corruption scandal that seems to be embroiling everyone in the organisation (because they're all corrupt, duh), and he's quite irritated about that. And when Jack Warner is irritated, he says hilarious things:

I have lived three score and almost ten and my Jack hasn't been hanged as yet, why should it be hung now? By whom? The American Chuck Blazer? His American lawyer John Collins? Give me a break. I am not the faint-hearted you know ... Let them go ahead, I have no problem with that. But I'll tell you something, I will hold my head high to the very end because, I repeat here again, I am not guilty of a single iota of wrongdoing.

Before his version of the Gettysburg address, Warner also warned of a 'football tsunami' coming to engulf FIFA, which I can only imagine means that Adidas produced far too many Jabulanis* last summer and they're going to turn their Zurich headquarters into a ball pit.

*Possibly Jabulanii? I have no idea what the plural is.

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Mohamed Bin Hammam Clains Corruption Allegations Part Of 'Tawdry Manoeuvre'

Mohamed bin Hammam still isn't happy with the corruption allegations leveled towards him by FIFA with a presidential election coming up, despite Sepp Blatter now also being treated similarly. His personal website (written rather amusingly in the third person) described the charges as a 'tawdry manoeuvre', which is a phrase I personally will be throwing into my conversations far more often:

Despite the fact that Mohamed Bin Hammam only had 48 hours to answer accusations of bribery, he submitted his reply to FIFA by 12 pm on Friday. There is increasing evidence of a conspiracy against his candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

It is obvious that these allegations have been made to discredit Mr Bin Hammam as a candidate in the imminent election for the FIFA presidency. It is quite obvious that, following previous failed attempts, this is part of a final effort to prevent Mr Bin Hammam from running for the FIFA presidency. Mr Bin Hammam expects FIFA's Ethics Committee to see through this tawdry manoeuvre.

By this point, it's all getting a little bit silly. Both the current President and his only competition in the upcoming election are under investigation for corruption charges, somehow making FIFA look even more ridiculous than they usually do. Bin Hammam has a point, as well - this does simply look like manoeuvring on Blatter's part to get him disqualified from the election, even if Blatter is being charged as well.

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FIFA Ethics Committee Opens Proceedings Against Sepp Blatter

It appears as if Mohamed bin Hammam has gotten his wish. On Thursday, bin Hammam said that if he was being investigated by the FIFA ethics committee then FIFA president Sepp Blatter should too. On Friday, the ethics committee opened proceedings against Blatter and now both candidates in the June 1 election for FIFA president are under investigation.

The ethics committee had already opened an investigation on bin Hammam, Asian Football Confederation president, for bribery claims. At bin Hammam's request, Blatter is now also being included in the investigation. It is only adds to the turmoil surrounding next week's FIFA Congress and presidential election.

Blatter refused to comment on the matter saying, "I cannot comment on the proceedings that have been opened against me today. The facts will speak for themselves."

FIFA rules state that any request from an executive committee member for an investigation must be carried out. Because bin Hammam is an executive committee member, FIFA was obligated to oblige his request for an investigation into Blatter.

It is alleged that bin Hammam offered cash bribes of up to $40,000 in exchange for votes in the presidential election. For that he was charged along with CONCACAF president Jack Warner and two members of the Caribbean Football Union. The four are set to appear in front of the ethics committee on May 29 and now Blatter will also join them there.

If bin Hammam is suspended from FIFA, he will be ineligible to run for president. Now Blatter's candidacy is in question as well. If he is suspended, he too will be ineligible to run. While bin Hammam is being charged with offering bribes, he claims that Blatter knew about any bribes and in knowing and not reporting them, he is as guilty as anyone else involved in the allegations.

FIFA's code of ethics states that any member of FIFA is under the obligation to "report any evidence of violations of conduct to the FIFA secretary general." Blatter would be in violation of FIFA rules if he is found to have known about the bribes.

This is just the latest in a long line of corruption allegations against FIFA. Nine of the 24 men in the executive committee have faced allegation charges and now the organization's president is also facing charges.

FIFA's statement on the proceedings against Blatter reads as follows: "On 26 May 2011, Fifa Executive Committee member Mohamed bin Hammam has requested the FIFA Ethics Committee to open ethics proceedings against FIFA President Joseph S Blatter on the basis that, in the report submitted by FIFA Executive Committee member Chuck Blazer earlier this week, FIFA Vice-President Jack A Warner would have informed the FIFA President in advance about alleged cash payments to delegations attending a special meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) apparently organized jointly by Jack A Warner and Mohamed bin Hammam on 10 and 11 May 2011 and that the Fifa President would have had no issue with these.

"Subsequently, the FIFA Ethics Committee today opened a procedure against the FIFA President in compliance with art. 16 of the Fifa Code of Ethics.

"Joseph S Blatter has been invited to take position by 28 May 2011, 11am CET and to attend a hearing by the FIFAEthics Committee at the Home of Fifa (Zurich) on 29 May 2011.

"No additional comments will be made by FIFA until further notice."

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Mohamed Bin Hammam Wants FIFA To Investigate Sepp Blatter Too

Asian Football Confederation president and FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam has been charged with offering bribes in exchange for votes in the upcoming FIFA presidential election and will have to appear in front of the FIFA ethics committee on May 29, but he wants FIFA to also investigate current FIFA president Sepp Blatter. While bin Hammam has been accused of offering cash bribes, he has accused Blatter of effectively approving the alleged payments.

On Thursday, bin Hammam formally wrotes to FIFA's general secretary Jerome Valcke, asking him to expand the probe to include Blatter. FIFA's code of ethics states that any member of FIFA is under the obligation to "report any evidence of violations of conduct to the FIFA secretary general." The general secretary will then forward any allegations to the ethics committee. If FIFA opens an investigation into Blatter's knowledge of the alleged bribery and it is found that he did know of it, he too could face sanctions.

Blatter is running for a fourth term as FIFA president and has oversen arguably the rockiest stretch in FIFA's history. Dating back to November, just prior to FIFA controversially deciding to award the right to host the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 World Cup to Qatar, nine of FIFA's 24-member executive committee members have been accused of corruption.

The latest allegations are against bin Hammam, CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and two members of the Caribbean Football Union. The four are under investigation after FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer and a member of FIFA's legal committee gathered evidence against all four, including sworn affidavits from witnesses. Allegedly, all four were involved in a bribery scheme that included cash bribes in exchange for members voting for bin Hammam in the June 1 presidential election.

In a statement bin Hammam said that the allegations against him were "without substance." He went on to add that "the accusations also contain statements according to which Mr Blatter, the incumbent FIFA president, was informed of, but did not oppose, payments allegedly made to members of the Caribbean Football Union."

It appears as if bin Hammam is found guilty of the bribery and barred from FIFA, he is set on taking down Blatter with him. It is another step in what is seemingly becoming a FIFA civil war. If the ethics committee suspends bin Hammam and he is ineligible to run for FIFA president, Blatter will win unopposed. Should that happen and Blatter is also suspended, Valcke will take over as FIFA president on a temporary basis.

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Blatter 'Takes No Joy' From Corruption Claims Against Bin Hammam

FIFA president Sepp Blatter denied any claims that he was involved in exposing bribery allegations against Mohamed bin Hammam, who is opposing Blatter in next week's vote for FIFA president. Blatter is seeking a fourth term as head of football's organizing committee and bin Hammam, Asian Football Confederation president, is his lone challenger, but bin Hammam was been charged with offering bribes to voters.

Some have questioned whether Blatter helped push the allegations to help him in the June 1 election. FIFA vice-president Chuck Blazer compiled the evidence along with a member of FIFA's legal committee. It is just the latest of many corruption claims against FIFA in recent months. Blatter responded to those claims in World Insider Football.

"I take absolutely no joy in seeing my friends and colleagues of many years dragged before the ethics committee... I take no joy to see men who stood by my side for some two decades, suffer through public humiliation without having been convicted of any wrongdoing: nobody is guilty until a judge has found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt. To now assume that the present ordeal of my opponent were to fill me with some sort of perverse satisfaction or that this entire matter was somehow masterminded by me is ludicrous and completely reprehensible."

"It is important that those who apparently know everything start understanding something that their modest intellect seems unable to take on board: I am shocked, saddened and deeply unhappy about the charges levelled against a man whose friendship I enjoyed for many years. It gives me no pleasure to see him suffer public disgrace before an investigation would even have started."

"I am all for the zero-tolerance policy I announced a while back and will continue to fight corruption in football to the best of my ability. But I also admire Chuck Blazer's civic courage and an initiative that resulted from reports he received from within the confederation he administers as its secretary general. And from nowhere else.

"I am horrified by the most recent developments that are shedding a very bad light on Fifa yet again: no sane person can take pleasure in this development, and no decent person will enjoy the troubles of others, be that friend or foe."

Along with bin Hammam, CONCACAF president and FIFA vice-president was also implicated in the bribery allegations. Two other members of the Caribbean Football Union were as well. All four people implicated will appear before the FIFA ethics committee on May 29.

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Adidas Says Latest Corruptions Allegations In FIFA Are Bad For Game

Normally allegations of corruption are bad for the organization in question. With FIFA in the midst of several allegations of corruption and under fire, saying that the allegations of corruption are bad for FIFA and the sport is nothing extraordinary. Well, that is unless it comes from Adidas, one of FIFA's biggest sponsors.

"The negative tenor of the public debate is neither good for the sport of football nor for FIFA as an institution and its partners," Adidas said in response to the allegations that have been levied against FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner, both FIFA vice-presidents.

Adidas and FIFA have been partners since 1970. Their current contract, which began in 2007 and runs through 2014, makes Adidas the official sports equipment supplier to FIFA and includes licensing rights, marketing and priority access to sponsorships on TV and in stadiums. That is especially valuable at the World Cup, where the Adidas logo is everywhere. Such a deal nets FIFA $351 million over the length of the deal.

Allegations of corruption within FIFA are nothing new and many have questioned why these allegations are more likely to force a change within the organization than any of the many others before. However, if FIFA's pocketbook is threatened, which is a long way off, but could be with further allegations and responses from top sponsors, that change within FIFA could come.

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Bin Hammam Calls Allegations Of Bribery A Blatter 'Tactic'

Every time it appears as if the corruption allegations against FIFA will go away, new ones pop up and the most recent allegation might be the most damaging of them all considering who is at the center of it. Mohamed bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation, FIFA vice-president and candidate for FIFA president has been charged with offering bribes in exchange for presidential votes. Jack Warner, president of CONCACAF and a FIFA vice-president, has also been charged with helping orchestrate the bribery.

FIFA has opened an investigation into the allegations with bin Hammam, Warner and two other people alleged to have been a a part of the bribery being asked to stand in front of the ethics committee on May 29. With the FIFA president vote set for June 1 and the race between current president Sepp Blatter and bin Hammam close, some have questioned if this investigation is a political ploy on Blatter's behalf.

One of the people who believes the investigation is a political ploy is bin Hammam, who has called it a "tactic." Both bin Hammam and Warner have vehemently denied the allegations brought forward by fellow FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer.

"This has been a difficult and painful day for me today. But, if there is even the slightest justice in the world, these allegations will vanish in the wind," bin Hammam said. "This move is little more than a tactic being used by those who have no confidence in their own ability to emerge successfully from the Fifa presidential election. I completely deny any allegations of wrongdoing either intentionally or unknowingly while I was in the Caribbean."

Warner also responded: "I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part and I shall listen to allegations made and respond accordingly. It is interesting to note the timing of these allegations and [that] the hearing [is] scheduled days before the Fifa presidential elections."

Blazer, along with a lawyer who sits on FIFA's legal committee, compiled a package of evidence that included signed affidavits from witnesses. That evidence was sent to FIFA and led to the investigation. If bin Hammam faces punishment that suspends him from FIFA, he will be ineligible to stand in the June 1 presidential election and Blatter will win a fourth term as president unopposed.

This is hardly the first time that FIFA has been embroiled in corruption allegations. In fact, since FIFA controversially awarded the right to host the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, nine of FIFA's 24-member executive committee have been implicated in some sort of corruption.

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FIFA Opens Investigation Into Bribery Claims Against Bin Hammam, Warner

FIFA has opened an investigation into bribery claims against FIFA vice-presidents Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner after receiving evidence from FIFA executive committee member Chuck Blazer. It is another in a long line of corruption allegations within FIFA with the intensity of the scrutiny picking up after Russia was awarded the right to host the 2018 World Cup and Qatar was awarded the right to host the 2022 World Cup in December.

What makes these allegations carry extra weight is that bin Hammam is running for FIFA president with the vote between he and current president Sepp Blatter coming on June 1. In addition, Warner has long been a close ally of Blatter's and as the president of CONCACAF, he carries weight within FIFA as well. Two members of the CFU, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester, are also part of the investigation.

Blazer compiled evidence against bin Hammam, Warner, Minguell and Sylvester after hearing that bin Hammam was offering bribes in exchange for presidential election votes at a CFU special meeting organized by bin Hammam and Warner. Upon hearing that, Blazer and an attorney gathered evidence and sent it to FIFA, spurring the investigation.

A FIFA statement read: "On May 24, 2011, FIFA executive committee member and CONCACAF general secretary Chuck Blazer reported to FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke possible violations of the FIFA code of Ethics allegedly committed by officials.

"In particular, the report referred to a special meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), apparently organised jointly by FIFA vice-president Jack A. Warner and FIFA executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam, which took place on May 10 and 11 2011. This meeting was linked to the upcoming FIFA presidential election.

"In view of the facts alleged in this report, which include bribery allegations, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, in compliance with art. 16 of the FIFA code of ethics, yesterday requested the FIFA ethics committee to open ethics proceedings.''

All four members under investigation will have to attend a hearing in Zurich on May 29 in front of the ethics committee. The chairman of the committee, Claudio Sulser, will not oversee the hearing because he is Swiss like Blatter and it could be construed as a conflict of interest. Instead, deputy chairman Petrus Damaseb of Namibia will oversee the meeting.

Depending on the ruling of the ethics committee, bin Hammam could be ruled ineligible to run for president. That would mean that Blatter would win the election unopposed.

Warner is already under fire for years of alleged corruption, including allegations by former English FA chairman Lord Triesman, who claims that Warner was looking for a bribe in exchange for his 2018 World Cup host vote. Tries also alleged systematic corruption within FIFA, naming several other people who had asked for bribes in exchange for their World Cup vote.

The decision to award underdogs Russia the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 World Cup was met with claims that the voting had been filled with corruption because established football powers like England, Netherlands and Spain were passed over, just as technically superior bids by the United States and Australia were.

Prior to the voting, two members of the FIFA executive committee were suspended from FIFA for bribery. Neither was allowed to vote in the awarding of the World Cup hosts.

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