Mohamed bin Hammam pulls out of Fifa presidency election

Mohamed bin Hammam pulls out of Fifa presidency election

Mohamed bin Hammam has withdrawn from the election race to become head of football’s governing body, FIFA.

The influential Qatari, who is also the president of the Asian Football Confederation, had been due to face current FIFA president Sepp Blatter in the election, but has now stepped aside.

The move came shortly before he was due to face an ethics committee hearing into bribery claims.

He said he did not want to see Fifa’s name “dragged more in the mud”.

His withdrawal means that Sepp Blatter remains the only candidate standing in the election next Wednesday.

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He also stressed that his withdrawal must not “be tied to the investigation held by the Fifa ethics committee”, saying that he would appear before the panel to clear his name.

In a statement, Bin Hammam said he “was and remains committed to change within Fifa” in order to “further the cause of democracy” within the organisation.

But he added that “recent events have left me hurt and disappointed - on a professional and personal level”.

“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.

The bribery allegations against Bin Hammam stem from a report by Fifa executive committee member Chuck Blazer.

He alleges that he and Fifa Vice-President Jack Warner jointly organised a special meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) earlier in May.

CFU members are reported to have told Fifa they were offered sums of cash for “development projects” at the meeting.

A file of evidence claims bundles of cash of up to $40,000 were handed over to members of the CFU.

Both Bin Hammam and Warner deny the allegations.

In turn, Mr Bin Hammam has effectively claimed that Mr Blatter - who is bidding for a fourth term in office - failed to report the payment of alleged bribes, in itself a breach of Fifa’s ethics code.

Sepp Blatter, 75, denies any wrongdoing. In a statement on Friday, he said: “I cannot comment on the proceedings that have been opened against me today. The facts will speak for themselves.”