Bin Hammam Still Talking a Lot and Still Saying Nothing

The news that former AFC President Mohammad Bin Hammams' appeal of the "lifetime ban" handed to him by FIFAs' Ethics Committee has been denied is, of course, not really "news" at all. When you publicly announce that the judicial entity considering your case is a "kangaroo court" before it even gets your application, it's unlikely that you're going to get a particularly warm reception.

In any case, BinnyHam is claiming today that "as a consequence of our experiences with the Ethics Committee, we didn’t make serious efforts to prove my innocence this time around", which falsely implies that he made a "serious effort to prove his innocence" last time around, a contention which does not, shall we say, bear close examination.

Specifically. the man has never, not even once, been willing to present himself for questioning on the record. He refused to meet with Freeh's investigators and then refused to answer their written questions. He refused to appear before the Ethics Committee and refused to submit any of the documents they requested. Just this week he refused to meet with the Appeals Committee.

If this is his version of "Serious efforts to prove my innocence" I'd hate to see what he thinks being uncooperative would look like.

Instead, he sends in battalions of impeccably dressed Swiss lawyers to stand around somberly running up billable hours and then tells the media what a sham the whole procedure was, how Sepp Blatter is persecuting him, how it's all a plot by "the Europeans" and, most recently, that the Chairman of the committee is an Uncle Tom.

He is of course playing to the European explanation for all of this, which he spelled out back in early June when he said "my suspension was a political decision and an absolute abuse of power to deprive me of my right to contest for (sic) FIFA Presidency."

Now no one is suggesting that Sepp Blatter lost any sleep over not having an opponent on the ballot three months ago, but this meme ignores some important facts, primary among them nobody "deprived" him of his right to stand for office.

Bin Hammam withdrew from the race, to quote Jack Warner, "of his own volition".

As he said at the time: “I pray that my withdrawal will not be tied to the investigation held by the Fifa ethics committee.”

Nobody made him do it. No one ordered him off the ballot. Yes, there was an investigation going on and some ugly stuff was coming to light, but his nomination was still valid and there was no hint of FIFA deciding otherwise.

Granted, being accused of passing bundles of US$100 bills to voters might be considered a disadvantage in some circles but at FIFA being willing to hand out large monetary gifts is considered a positive. If anything, it might have actually gained him some votes.

Yes, the media and the fans were in an uproar but if there's one thing we know about FIFA it's that they don't give a flying you-know-what about that kind of thing. Half the time they don't even bother to deny it.

Indeed, if the collective opinion of the media and the fans held any kind of sway Sepp Blatter wouldn't have even been in the building; he'd have been voted out in 2002 when the organization was in the middle of a $100 million bribery scandal and he had to stop appearing at South Korean World Cup venues because of all the booing.

As for Bin Hammam, he can blubber all he wants about how the process is rigged and it's all a vendetta and he looks forward to proving his "innocence" until Qatar freezes over but if he actually expects anyone to buy it he needs to start making statements like the following:

1) I did not conspire with Jack Warner to lie about my visa status vis-a-vis the United States as an excuse for him to then arrange a meeting in a place which would be profitable to him personally and where I would not be in violation of US currency and financial reporting laws and taxes.

2) I categorically deny bringing an undeclared US$1,000.000 in cash into Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, on or around May 9, 2011 on my private plane.

3) I did not give Jack Warner US$1,000,000 in cash to parcel out as gifts to members of the Caribbean Football Union.

4) I have no knowledge of any money being handed out to CFU representatives on my behalf.

So far, BinnyHam has had a lot to say about what a rotter Sepp Blatter is and how this whole thing was a setup having to do with the FIFA elections (which, it should be pointed out, Sepp Blatter was always going to win anyway) and, conversely, almost nothing about the actual facts of the case despite now having been offered two golden opportunities to do so.

Will he finally take the stand at the CAS? One has to doubt it. It's likely that his strategy is to see if his lawyers can get it overturned without him having to testify; after all, it's absolutely true that no one has ever claimed to have seen him hand over a dime to anyone.

And besides: perjury is almost always a bad idea.

He talks and he posts and he attacks and he poses but the odd thing is that he never quite gets around to saying that he's innocent.

His position all along was that he was simply going through the formal steps FIFA statutes demand that he take before being allowed to file his case with the designated outside arbiter, the Court for Arbitration of Sport.

In his ludicrously expensive hand sewn Italian loafers you'd probably do the same thing under the circumstances; the man has but few friends left in FIFA these days. However, while the members of the two committees who have ruled on his case are in fact, as Binny keeps insisting, FIFA guys down to their toes, they're nothing like the Sepp Blatter lickspittles that he has repeatedly and crudely attempted to portray them as.

Most importantly, none of them are notably beholden to Sepp Blatter for a damned thing.

However, while the Qatari billionaire is probably correct when he insists that he has a better chance with the CAS than he did making his case in front of a panel of FIFA appointees sitting in that massive stone palace in Zurich - the rules of evidence are much more stringent - his implication omits one important detail:

If he actually appears before the CAS and simply answers some obvious questions, it will be the very first time he's done so.