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 Under investigation by the FIFA ethics committee for bribery, Mohamed bin Hammam has withdrawn from the race for FIFA president.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.