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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