Bin Hammam withdraws from FIFA presidential race

ESPNsoccernet staff
May 29, 2011

Asian Football Confederation chief Mohamed bin Hammam has withdrawn from the FIFA presidential election amid allegations of bribery, but has vowed to clear his name.

Bin Hammam, who will appear before the FIFA ethics committee on Sunday, and his rival in the election, current FIFA president Sepp Blatter, are both under investigation, along with FIFA vice-president Jack Warner.

Although the path seems clear for Blatter to continue his reign as head of football's world governing body the ethics committee has the power to remove him from standing in Wednesday's FIFA presidential election.

The Swiss also needs a mandate from FIFA's executive members to continue for another term, but if they refuse to back Blatter, as the FA have stated they will do, he will be unable to retain power.

Bin Hammam had campaigned for the presidency on a promise to make FIFA more transparent. After withdrawing from the election he said: "I pray that my withdrawal will not be tied to the investigation held by the FIFA Ethics Committee as I will appear before the Ethics Committee to clear my name from the baseless allegations that have been made against me.

"I promise those who stood by me that I will walk with my head held high and will continue to fight for the good of the game.

"I would like to offer my thanks and appreciation to all Member Associations and individuals who supported me. I hope that they will not receive my decision with disappointment and frustration.

"I have a special thank you to my friend and colleague Jack Warner for his unlimited support. I am sorry to see that he has to suffer because of me, but I am promising him that I will be with him all the way through thick and thin.

"I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to restore FIFA's reputation to what it should be - a protector of the game that has credibility through honesty, transparency and accountability.''

Bin Hammam added: "I made the decision to run for the FIFA presidency because I was and remain committed to change within FIFA.

"I set out my goals and ambitions clearly - to further the cause of democracy within FIFA - through a commitment to transparency and accountability; through a commitment to expand the number of officials and nations involved in decision-making processes.

"In addition to this, I wanted to spark a debate about change in FIFA. For the good of football, I wanted the future to be bright for our world's governing body and for it to adapt to the ever-changing world we live in today.

"However, recent events have left me hurt and disappointed - on a professional and personal level.''

Bin Hammam added: "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.

"I cannot allow the name that I loved to be dragged more and more in the mud because of competition between two individuals.

"The game itself and the people who love it around the world must come first.

"It is for this reason that I announce my withdrawal from the presidential election.

"I will not put my personal ambition ahead of FIFA's dignity and integrity.

"Besides, I believe my candidacy has been a catalyst for debate within FIFA and has brought change to the top of the agenda.

Warner and Bin Hammam face lengthy bans should the corruption allegations made by fellow executive committee member Chuck Blazer be proven.

Blazer claims that the violations of FIFA's code of ethics occurred during a meeting organised by Bin Hammam and Warner for Caribbean Football Union (CFU) associations in Trinidad two weeks ago. Both men deny any wrongdoing.

Bin Hammam made a complaint on Thursday that Blatter knew about the alleged cash payments in the Caribbean and under their code, the ethics committee had to summon Blatter to answer that charge as well.

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