Today in Zurich the full FIFA Ethics Committee got together to hear Mohammad Bin Hammams' explanation of his actions in Port of Spain on May 10.
What they got instead was the sound of silence.
Bin Hammam, who flew into Zurich yesterday loudly trumpeting his innocence and claiming that the evidence against him is "flimsy", chose at the very last minute to stay in his hotel suite rather than face questioning from Justice Damaseb & Co.
Since Jack Warner, who claimed all along that he would "cooperate fully" with the committee, chose to stay in Trinidad & Tobago, while Jason Sylvester and Debbie Minguell still refuse to even return phone calls, that makes it a clean sweep: not one of the FIFA officials accused of participating in the T&T BribeORama will be taking questions today or, presumably, any other day.
For Bin Hammam this last minute refusal to appear is a real surprise; although he's been saying on his personal blog that he felt he was being ill treated and expected to be found guilty no matter what, he's also been insisting that he intended to vigorously defend himself.
Instead, sounding a lot like a man who knows the jig is up, he wrote:
"It seems likely that Fifa has already made its decision weeks ago. So, none of us should be completely surprised if a guilty verdict is returned."
He also claims he intends to continue his quest for "justice" no matter where it leads:
"Rest assured, though, that justice will eventually prevail, whether through the Fifa ethics committee, the Court of Arbitration for Sport or, if necessary, through other courts or legal proceedings in courts where we will be equal and no special privileges will be granted to either party."
In the meantime, the only evidence he has offered the committee is a receipt from Jack Warner's travel agency, Simpaul - the same one Jack swore to FIFA he didn't have anything to do with any more - for $360,000, the amount which BinMo said he was charged for the travel expenses of the CFU delegates.
Warner told the committee back on May 30 that it was only about $250,000.
(I'm notoriously bad at math, so would someone kindly help me out here? Out of 25 CFU feds, one (Cuba) didn't attend and one (T&T) presumably didn't have travel expenses. That means that for plane tickets and two days in a hotel in Port of Spain Bin Hammam paid Warner over $15,000 per head, doesn't it?)
Other than that, the Qatari has steadfastly refused to produce any of the information the committee asked for, particularly his bank statements from May.
You may recall that Justice Damaseb, when he first laid out the charges against the Absent Four, was quite clear about the fact that according to FIFA's published Ethics Rules they can and will use lack of cooperation with the Committee and their designated investigators as prima facie evidence of guilt.
In that case, the empty chairs in the meeting room will be heard loud and clear whether they are occupied or not.
(The committee apparently intends to follow the published schedule and announce a final verdict sometime tomorrow afternoon via a live stream at FIFA.com.)
Of course, there never really was much doubt about the final verdict.
Not because, as Bin Hammam would have it, the deck is stacked against him, but rather because, at the end of the day, a million bucks in cash got passed around on the day in question and there's simply nobody else who had either the means or the motive to do so.
Meanwhile in Barbados, in a depressingly predictable media release, Lisle Austin used the Andrew Jennings "revelations" about Chuck Blazers' contractually mandated compensation arrangements to once again demand that he be given the reins of CONCACAF so that he can conduct "a forensic accounting review" of the organization records in the interests of, altogether now: "transparency and reform."
Why, it's almost as if someone arranged the timing so that this would hit the media today. What a coincidence. What a farce.
He points out, quite rightly, that on the very day he took office - which turned out to be his only day in office - when he "fired" Chuck Blazer he said he was ordering this same "forensic accounting" investigation - (although, as noted, it doesn't appear that the President has the statutory authority to order any such thing) to uncover evidence of skulduggery, and implying that the papers which Andrew Jennings quite conveniently found jammed under his door a few days ago constitute some kind of shocking revelation of information he was unfamiliar with.
Which sounds reasonable until you recall that, as the Senior Vice President of CONCACAF and a member of that bodys' Executive Committee, he's not only known about Blazers' deal for five years, he undoubtedly approved it along with the rest of the committee. This isn't news to him.
Not by a long shot.
By statute, the CONCACAF ExCo administers the organization, approves the budget, negotiates contracts and has detailed, day-to-day knowledge of, among other things, where the money is going.
Furthermore, upon careful review, Blazers' compensation is not only not at all out of line but, in fact, might actually be on the low end of the scale for that type of work.
Once again, Jack Warners' lapdog is simply baying at the moon. It'll be interesting to see whether media outside of the Caribbean picks up Austins' ludicrous screed or if, at long last, it's finally dawning on people that the guy is nothing but a worthless, lying clown.
You do have to give him one thing though:
He claims he's only interested in "transparency" and it must be so since this whole "slip some stuff to Andrew Jennings and then pretend it's some kind of shocking revelation" ploy is, to anyone who's paying attention, about as "transparent" a setup as you can possibly imagine.
As a commenter put it the other day, if this low rent farce is the best Warner can do, he's even deader than we thought.