LONDON May 26 – The race for control of world football's governing body was in uproar on Wednesday after FIFA presidential challenger Mohamed Bin Hammam was accused of corruption.A FIFA statement said Bin Hammam and three other officials including vice-president Jack Warner had been ordered to appear before an ethics committee on Sunday to respond to fresh allegations of graft.
News of the charges — made by fellow executive committee member Chuck Blazer — came exactly one week before Bin Hammam was due to take on FIFA President Sepp Blatter at elections in Zurich.
Bin Hammam swiftly dismissed the accusations as a politically motivated tactic by his election rival Blatter, who is bidding to secure a fourth term as the most powerful man in football at next week’s vote.
"This move is little more than a tactic being used by those who have no confidence in their own ability to emerge successfully from the FIFA Presidential election," Bin Hammam said in a statement.
The FIFA charges relate to a recent meeting in Trinidad attended by Bin Hammam, CONCACAF President Warner and officials from the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), including Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester.
All four have been ordered to appear before FIFA’s ethics commitee on May 29, just three days before the presidential vote.
Asian Football Confederation chief Bin Hammam insisted, however, the allegations were without foundation.
"Here I completely deny any allegations of wrongdoing either intentionally or unknowingly while I was in the Caribbean," he said.
"… if there is even the slightest justice in the world, these allegations will vanish in the wind.
"I am confident that there is no charge to answer and that I will be free to stand in the FIFA Presidential election on June 1 as originally planned."
FIFA said possible violations of the body’s ethics code had been brought to the attention of FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke by Blazer, who is also CONCACAF secretary general, on May 24.
"In particular, the report referred to a special meeting of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), apparently organised jointly by FIFA Vice-President Jack A. Warner and FIFA Executive Committee member Mohamed bin Hammam, which took place on 10 and 11 May 2011. This meeting was linked to the upcoming FIFA presidential election," FIFA said in a statement.
"In view of the facts alleged in this report, which include bribery allegations, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, in compliance with art. 16 of the FIFA Code of Ethics, yesterday requested the FIFA Ethics Committee to open ethics proceedings."
The explosive new revelations are just the latest to embroil FIFA, which opened a separate inquiry earlier this month after claims made in the British parliament regarding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Former FA chairman David Triesman testified before a committee that he had witnessed "improper and unethical" behaviour by four FIFA voters – including Warner – while campaigning for England’s 2018 World Cup bid.
Triesman said Warner asked for cash for an education centre to be funnelled to him directly and that Thailand’s FIFA member Worawi Makudi had requested television rights to a friendly between England and Thailand.
Paraguay’s FIFA member Nicolas Leoz allegedly asked for a knighthood while Brazil’s FIFA member Ricardo Teixeira also solicited favours. All four have denied the claims.
Two other FIFA executive committee members – vice-president Issa Hayatou of Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of the Ivory Coast – also denied allegations they accepted bribes in exchange for supporting Qatar’s successful bid.