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Bin Hammam: Blatter acted like a 'dictator'

Sepp Blatter FIFA congress
Sepp Blatter's actions have been called dictatorial by Mohamed bin Hammam.
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LONDON (AP)

Mohamed bin Hammam has accused FIFA President Sepp Blatter of acting like a ''dictator'' in giving him a life ban from football over bribery allegations and has refused to quit as president of the Asian Football Confederation.

On AFC-headed paper, Bin Hammam wrote to Asian members urging their support during his appeal against the life ban and anticipated delays before he can present his case to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

FIFA banned bin Hammam on Saturday, just months after he helped his native Qatar win the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

But the Qatari official denies giving cash to Caribbean officials in exchange for supporting his bid to become FIFA president and contends that the allegations were made because he was a threat to Blatter's re-election.

''This is actually the act of the dictators,'' bin Hammam said. ''You have witnessed through history the dictators, when they think this or that person is a prominent one to replace him, first thing they do they execute him and try to fabricate any allegation against him to jail him or something like that.

''I don't know if Mr. Blatter considers himself a leader or not but the leader doesn't revenge.''

To Asian members, he wrote: ''My candidacy for FIFA president was something which has been resisted by others by all means who pretend that they (support) democracy although they have no democracy principles.''

China's Zhang Jilong has been acting AFC president since bin Hammam was provisionally suspended last month. The AFC executive board will meet before the end of July. Repeated requests from The Associated Press for interviews with Zhang and bin Hammam have been declined.

Zhang issued a statement in response to bin Hammam's ban, seemingly taking middle ground in the situation: ''AFC respects FIFA's decision and we also acknowledge former AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam's inalienable right to lodge an appeal against the decision.''

In an interview with Sky Sports News broadcast Monday, bin Hammam acknowledged that the exchange of gifts between officials was commonplace at FIFA but said that did not constitute bribery and denied handing over cash.

''This is a normal, normal, normal practice,'' said bin Hammam, pointing at a watch on his left wrist. ''This watch is a gift from somebody. It is a gesture. When I received it, I did not give anything.

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''It depends about the tradition of the people. Maybe there are some traditions you are not familiar with from where you are coming. But it is traditional somewhere else.''

Bin Hammam also continued to protest his innocence of wrongdoing in a statement on his website, suggesting that he acted entirely within FIFA's guidelines and reiterating his intention to appeal.

''The issue is whether I did something that was against the FIFA rules,'' bin Hammam said. ''I believe FIFA alleged that I used cash to obtain votes. That is for them to prove and I can tell you categorically that I did not.''

The FIFA ethics panel ruled that bin Hammam conspired to pay Caribbean officials $40,000 cash bribes to back his challenge to Blatter, which he eventually abandoned to leave Blatter as the sole candidate.

Bin Hammam, a 15-year veteran of the FIFA executive committee, is the most senior football official convicted of corruption in its 107-year history.

''There has always been a burden of proof on FIFA to explain the charges and then to establish its case beyond any reasonable doubt,'' bin Hammam said. ''I was astonished to hear that the ethics committee was very unsure what the charges were and could not agree between themselves.

''I believe that there was not a single piece of evidence FIFA had offered to show that I gave money to any delegates for votes.''

Bin Hammam denied being uncooperative with the FIFA investigation and provided the committee with his bank statements.

''The transcript (of the hearing) should be made available to the media by FIFA so that you can judge the evidence and testimony for yourself,'' bin Hammam said. ''I have nothing to hide and I hope FIFA will not use confidentiality as an excuse.''

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Stuart Condie can be reached at http://twitter.com/StuartCondieAP

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