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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bin Hammam tears into 'dictator' Blatter


LONDON — Mohamed bin Hammam has accused FIFA president Sepp Blatter of acting like a "dictator" in giving him a life ban from soccer over bribery allegations and has refused to quit as president of the Asian Football Confederation.

On AFC-headed paper, Bin Hammam wrote to Asian members urging their support during his appeal against the life ban and anticipated delays before he can present his case to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

FIFA banned bin Hammam on Saturday, just months after he helped his native Qatar win the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

But the Qatari official denies giving cash to Caribbean officials in exchange for supporting his bid to become FIFA president and contends that the allegations were made because he was a threat to Blatter's re-election.

"This is actually the act of the dictators," bin Hammam said. "You have witnessed through history the dictators, when they think this or that person is a prominent one to replace him, first thing they do they execute him and try to fabricate any allegation against him to jail him or something like that.

"I don't know if Mr. Blatter considers himself a leader or not but the leader doesn't revenge."

To Asian members, he wrote: "My candidacy for FIFA president was something which has been resisted by others by all means who pretend that they (support) democracy although they have no democracy principles."

China's Zhang Jilong has been acting AFC president since bin Hammam was provisionally suspended last month. The AFC executive board will meet before the end of July.

Zhang issued a statement in response to bin Hammam's ban, seemingly taking middle ground in the situation: "AFC respects FIFA's decision and we also acknowledge former AFC President Mohamed bin Hammam's inalienable right to lodge an appeal against the decision."

In an interview with Sky Sports News broadcast Monday, bin Hammam acknowledged that the exchange of gifts between officials was commonplace at FIFA but said that did not constitute bribery and denied handing over cash.

"This is a normal, normal, normal practice," said bin Hammam, pointing at a watch on his left wrist. "This watch is a gift from somebody. It is a gesture. When I received it, I did not give anything."

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