London: FIFA has extended the provisional ban on former presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam for another 45 days, the Qatari's lawyers have said. Bin Hammam had a lifetime ban overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in July but was suspended again one week later, this time for a provisional period of 90 days, as FIFA announced a fresh probe by its ethics investigator Michael Garcia.
Now the former Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president and FIFA executive committee member, who challenged Sepp Blatter for the presidency last year, has received a further ban. "It is astounding that FIFA is able to keep extending its ban on the football activities of Mr Bin Hammam, as it sees fit. FIFA's latest extension order fails to give any reasons to justify its action," said Bin Hammam's lawyer Eugene Gulland in a statement.
"The basic tenet of law is that a person is innocent until proven guilty after a trial conducted according to due process. "The situation that Mr Bin Hammam is facing is even more bizarre - a man who has prevailed in a trial by an independent legal body continues to be punished in an arbitrary manner."
Bin Hammam was accused of trying to buy the presidential votes of Caribbean officials by handing them $40,000 each in brown envelopes at a meeting in Port of Spain. He withdrew his candidacy for the FIFA elections and Blatter was re-elected unopposed for a fourth term as FIFA president.
Bin Hammam was then banned for life after being found guilty of breaking seven articles of FIFA's ethics code, including one on bribery. Proceedings against former CONCACAF president Jack Warner, also present at the meeting in Trinidad & Tobago, were dropped after he resigned from his post.
CAS overturned Bin Hammam's ban and last week he appealed to CAS again over the provisional suspension. "The judgment of CAS found not only that FIFA failed to establish adequate evidence that Mr Bin Hammam was the source of the funds, but FIFA had also failed to establish any intent to influence votes. In short, FIFA failed to establish both evidence and motive," his lawyer continued.
"Yet here we are some four months later with FIFA continuing to extend its ban while it, in conjunction with the AFC, conjures up further jumped-up charges." In its original ruling, CAS said the decision to annul Bin Hammam's life ban was not "an affirmative finding of innocence" and that the case could be re-opened with new evidence. FIFA was not available to comment.