Bin Hammam defiant on eve of World Cup verdicts

Published Nov. 18, 2010 12:01 a.m. ET

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.