Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mohammed bin Hammam Requests a FIFA Investigation of Blatter

In the latest interesting twist to the ongoing battle between former FIFA official Mohammend bin Hammam and FIFA/Sepp Blatter, bin Hammam has written a letter to FIFA requesting that the organization open up an investigation of Blatter.

The Independent reports:
In the letter, which has been seen by the Press Association, Bin Hammam states: "Complaints have been made both against Mr Blatter and some of his colleagues which would seem to justify a full investigation.

"Whilst I am still suspended my rival in the 2011 presidential election remains in power and office.

"He is not under any investigation or suspension. This is so difficult for me to understand."
In August I observed that the initiation of an investigation was a key gap in the procedures of the new FIFA investigative functions under Michael Garcia, when I suggested that Garcia ought to clarify the following questions:
Do your investigations have a "terms of reference" or a "probable cause" statement that initiates action? If so, will you release them? If not, how do you avoid charges of ad hoc decision making?
Now bin Hammam is asking the same questions, which have been raised by others as well.

A few weeks ago I asked FIFA IGC member Michael J. Hershman a question about how the new FIFA ethics committee sets its investigative priorities, and here is how I characterized his response:
Garcia’s committee decides on priorities by majority vote. But because Garcia has plenty of experience in such matters as compared to other members of the committee, the committee seems willing to follow his lead. In response to my pressing him a bit on this point (as Garcia is the only independent member of that committee), Hershman emphasized that Garcia’s committee is not a FIFA committee, but an ethics committee which sets its own priorities.
Hershman further noted that a forthcoming "whistleblower's hotline" will allow allegations to be brought before the FIFA Ethics Committee which can decide if the allegations merit an investigation.

So members of the media with the ability to ask Garcia questions might add the following:
  • Have you asked the full Ethics Committee to vote on opening an investigation of Sepp Blatter? If not, why not?
  • If so, what was the resulting vote?
The Independent reports further details from the bin Hammam letter:
"I do appreciate that Mr Garcia has a job to do but... why should others not be suspended pending investigations in the same way that I have been?

"How can there ever have be a fair and open election in FIFA against an incumbent president? There are no rules and therefore no level playing field.

"Whilst my time to stand on a change agenda may have passed I would hope that others will follow.

"If they do so they should not be at risk of the fate that has occurred to me."

Bin Hammam, who was Asian Confederation President (AFC) and a FIFA executive committee member until his ban, said the allegations had been "a nightmare".

"I have now been kept out of football for nearly 16 months," he said in the letter. "Apart from my personal position, my family have endured the nightmare of one set of allegations after the other being made against me.

"I also have to witness the AFC, which I spent such a big part of my time and life putting into a secure financial position, beginning to crumble before my very eyes."
Setting aside issues of the possibility of ethical violations made by either bin Hammam or Blatter, FIFA has set itself up for legitimate claims of violations of due process, selective administration of its new ethics guidelines and arbitrariness in the use of its investigative resources.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has already come down hard on FIFA once before for violating bin Hammam's due process rights. Now bin Hammam is setting FIFA up for a similar outcome.


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