Bin Hammam defiant on eve of World Cup verdicts

Qatar football leader Mohamed Bin Hammam challenged a FIFA

investigation on Wednesday to find evidence of collusion between

his country and Spain in bidding contests to host the World

Cup.

The FIFA executive committee member spoke at a sports conference

in Doha as an ethics court concluded a three-day session at the

governing body’s headquarters in Zurich to examine vote-rigging

allegations surrounding the 2018 and 2022 races.

”Where is the corruption we are talking about?,” Bin Hammam

asked at the Aspire4Sport event.

FIFA’s ethics panel is scheduled to rule on Thursday whether to

exclude 2018 candidate Spain-Portugal and 2022 bidder Qatar from

the Dec. 2 poll if they broke rules by making a vote-swapping

pact.

”It is nice to say that there is something wrong happening

between Qatar and Spain, or Qatar and any country,” Bin Hammam

said. ”People in the media are talking about it but, without

investigating, what is this?”

FIFA declined comment on the ethics hearing Wednesday, and has

not identified which bidders it is investigating for suspected

collusion.

However, the Qatari and Iberian bids were named by former

official Michel Zen-Ruffinen in a sting operation published by the

British Sunday Times newspaper last month.

Zen-Ruffinen, who succeeded Sepp Blatter to serve as FIFA’s

general secretary from 1998-2002, told reporters who posed as

lobbyists that Qatar and Spain had secured seven votes from the

24-man FIFA executive body which chooses the hosts in a secret

ballot.

The newspaper earlier published interviews appearing to show

Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii offering their votes for sale in

exchange for football funding.

Adamu and Temarii deny wrongdoing but FIFA’s ethics committee

suspended them from duty last month until they could plead their

cases at full hearings.

The panel, chaired by lawyer and former Switzerland

international Claudio Sulser, is expected to announce Thursday if

the pair’s suspensions should be extended to bar them from

voting.

Four former FIFA executives – Tunisian lawyer Slim Aloulou,

Amadou Diakite of Mali, Botswana’s Ismail Bhamjee and Ahongalu

Fusimalohi from Tonga – also face sanctions after reportedly

advising undercover reporters how to bribe FIFA voters.

FIFA president Blatter has called his executive colleagues into

emergency session on Friday in Zurich to respond to the

rulings.

Blatter has said the vote can proceed with 22 or 23 members. A

majority is needed to secure hosting rights for the world’s most

popular single-sport event.

The European contest for 2018 is between England, Russia and the

joint bids of Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal. The 2022 race

pits Qatar against the United States, Australia, Japan and South

Korea.

Bin Hammam said Wednesday that FIFA must never again combine two

hosting contests – an October 2008 decision which backfired despite

the FIFA executive committee’s belief it would help strike better

commercial deals.

”The members of Asia including me were not convinced that we

should decide two World Cups at the same time, especially the one

in 2022,” Bin Hammam said. ”I hope people realized that it was

not the right decision.”

AP Sports Writer Michael Casey contributed from Doha, Qatar.