So Long, Farewell, Aufwiedersehen, Goodbye: Bin Hammam Folds His Tents

FIFA Headquarters in Zurich today issued a terse statement announcing that "Mohamed Bin Hammam, FIFA Executive Committee member and AFC President, has resigned from all his positions in football with immediate effect and will never be active in organised football again. This results from a resignation letter of Mr Bin Hammam addressed to FIFA and AFC dated on 15 December 2012."

Just last week, the Investigatory Committee of FIFA's new Ethics process passed on their findings to the "Adjudicatory" committee and it appeared to some observers that MoBinny had scored a clear win.

The investigators, headed by American attorney Michael Garcia, announced that they had been unable to uncover any new evidence or testimony linking the Qatari to the bribe money Jack Warner's minions passed out in Port of Spain on that fateful day in May of 2011.

You'll recall that the Court of Arbitration for Sport had overturned MBH's life ban and told FIFA that they needed to come up with some actual proof that the money was from him, something which proved impossible without either Warner's testimony or Bin Hammam's bank statements, neither of which they were ever going to get.

Down in Trnidad, our man Thievin' Jack took a few moments away from publicly hoping for a quick death for a human rights leader who's on a hunger strike trying to keep the government from putting 1000 or so poor families out in the street so they can build a roadto tell reporters that he felt "vindicated" by the decision, (hat tip to the indomitable Pablo Chicago) adding that "he was always confident he and Bin Hamman would be cleared".

"Cleared" being, of course, nothing like what had happened. But no matter.

In actuality, all Garcia did was toss out a charge he didn't need any more because he had his man dead to rights on the WSG bribe deal.

Reportedly, it came down to a few of MBH's AFC cronies who, having steadfastly backed him up lo these many months, came to the conclusion that their boy was going down anyway and chose to come clean rather than go down with him.

So, armed with the PriceWaterhous Coopers audit and the testimony of a number of previously recalcitrant AFC insiders, Garcia's people had Bin Hammam dead to rights. He dropped the CFU bribery angle because he didn't need it any more.

Bin Hammam got the message late last week and sent FIFA his resignation on Saturday.

And in an interesting - and previously unnoticed - rule change implemented as part of the new FIFA Code of Ethics, the Qatari businessman wasn't able to simply resign and walk away from the investigation, like Warner did, and have the case against him closed, a situation which has allowed Uncle Jack to claim ever since that he was found "innocent".

Under the new rule:

..."the FIFA Ethics Committee remains competent to render a decision even if a person resigns, (therefore) the Adjudicatory Chamber decided to ban Mohamed Bin Hammam from all football-related activity for life."

So the resignation was submitted two days before the announcement of the lifetame ban he knew was coming.

"You can't fire me, I quit" may have currency in some circles, but for a guy who has spent literally millions over the past 18 months fighting to get his positions back and loudly proclaiming his innocence, it has to be a bitter pill.

A lot of us here in CONCACAF would liked it very much if Bin Hammam would have gone down for the T&T Bribe-O-Rama, but that wasn't in the cards. It's enough that this singularly reprehensible crook is gone for good.

Next up, after AFC elections now scheduled for April, will be the question of whether they will try and fight the reportedly corrupt, bought and paid for billion dollar contract with World Sports Group, whose president now also owns the MLS candidate New York Cosmos.

Since there's so much more FIFA news going down, and I'm not particularly tired yet, allow me to tack on some other items which may be of interest:

- An "independent panel" commissioned by UEFA to look into the despicable racial taunting ad physical violence at the England/Serbia U21 match a few weeks back has decided that the Serbs should pay a fine of 60,000 euros and play their next home U21 match behind closed doors as punishment.

The biggest problem wth this is that, as I wrote a couple weeks ago, this is being compared to the fine of 80,000 levied on a player at UEFA Cup for briefly showing a sponsor's logo which was printed on his compression shorts.

Now as we all know, the latter is a threat to UEFA's income, which is of course a matter of much greater concern to them than mere human dignity and decency. It's hardly a secret where their priorities lie.

But just as obviously they can't actually admit it and now they have a problem.

UEFA President - and FIFA Crown Prince - Michel Platini announced that he will "appeal" the ruling, which originally sounded like he was trying to get it softened up but apparently he's as embarassed as...well, as he ought to be, and is going to see if he can't get the committee to take another look and, hopefully, come back with a punishment which is more like an actual punishment.

FIFA Grand Poobah Sepp Blatter has joined in and is making many appropriate-sounding mouth noises as well. Has there ever been a more worthless, insincere pile of crap in all of sport? Makes the new rumors of him perhaps deciding that he will need another term after all even more frightening.

Or ridiculous. Your pick.

- FIFA is also fending off seriously ugly publicity over the CONMEBOL Copa Sudaméricana (think Europa Cup for South America) second leg last week with homestanding Sao Paolo, Brazil facing Tigres of Argentina.

The hosts refused to allow Tigre to have a training session at the stadium and then stadium security refused to even allow them to take the field and warm up before the match.

The Chilean referee struggled mightily to keep control of what reportedly degenerated into an ugly slugfest - not without blood, however - but a serious sideline scuffle as the teams were heading to the locker rooms which required police intervention and resulted in two red cards only made a bad situation worse.

According to Tigre management, Brazilian security police proceeded to invade their locker room, rough a few guys up, threaten some others with guns and generally turn a frightening situation into an intolerable one.

“There were 15 guys waiting to fight us in the locker room,” (Tigre Manager) Gorosito said late Wednesday evening. “Several players were injured, although none seriously.”

Lucas Orbán told Fox: “The security guards were waiting here to kill us. They hit people with sticks, benches, everything.”

Not surprisingly, Tigre refused to take the field for the second half and the referee declared a forfeit.

Sao Paolo was of course extremely gracious and sporting about the whole thing, with club president Juvenal Juvencio saying, “Our biggest victory is the fact that the Argentines ran away.” His vice President told reporters that the whole thing was a lie, saying "They have found a way to deface a wonderful victory.”

Seeing as how Brazil is scheduled to host another large soccer tournament of some kind fairly soon - can't quite recall what it's called - FIFA is trying not to freak out over the whole thing, with Blatter today telling reporters that the whole thing is "a wake up call for Brazil."

How that might be is anyone's guess, since Brazil is claiming it never happened, and the vicious criminal thug in charge of CONMEBOL, the utterly corrupt octogenarian Nicholas Leoz, has no comment whatever.

Perhaps he's still taking bids. He never met a decision that wasn't for sale.

- You may also recall that FIFA's Executive Committee, at the surprise behest of President Blatter, ruled last May that Kosovo would henceforth be allowed to play friendly matches.

This provoked outrage from the Serbs who, along with their big brothers the Russians, began a full court press to prevent it from happening.

Last week, after six months of protests - and with the cowards at UEFA, led by the aforementioned Mssr. Platini, siding with Serbia - FIFA proudly announced that matches could go ahead.

Kind of.

Women and any teams U23 and under will be allowed to schedule games but no Men's national side will be allowed.

Sepp feels this is a huge victory for freedom and justice.

Some of us have a somewhat different take.

And so it goes.