FIFA hands Bin Hammam life ban for bribery

ZURICH - Asian football chief Mohamed Bin Hammam was banned for life on Saturday after being found guilty by world football's ruling body of trying to buy votes ahead of last month's FIFA presidential election.

The 62-year-old Qatari was found guilty by FIFA's Ethics Committee of bribery during a meeting with Caribbean officials in Port of Spain, Trinidad in May, the committee's deputy chairman Petrus Damaseb told reporters.

Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester were each given one-year bans and Damaseb recommended a further investigation be opened "into the conduct of others who attended the meeting."

Lawyers for Bin Hammam, Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president since 2002, said he rejected the verdict and would appeal.

"He maintains his innocence," Eugene Gulland told reporters. "He will continue to fight his case through the legal routes that are open to him.

"He has gone on record and maintains FIFA was going to find against him whatever the validity of the case he presented to them.

"FIFA's Ethics Committee has apparently based its decision on so-called circumstantial evidence which our case has clearly demonstrated was bogus and founded on lies told by senior FIFA officials," added Gulland.

Bin Hammam, who has also been on FIFA's Executive Committee since 1996, withdrew his presidential candidacy on May 29 and Swiss Sepp Blatter was re-elected unopposed for a fourth term three days later.

Former CONCACAF president Jack Warner, provisionally banned with Bin Hammam for his involvement in the Port of Spain meeting, resigned in June and a case against him was dropped.

Bin Hammam could now take his case to FIFA's own appeals committee and, if that fails, can then go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

He must first wait for a detailed report of the ethics committee process - expected to take several weeks - before he can launch his appeal.