Ousted Asian football chief Mohamed bin Hammam on Thursday lost his appeal against a lifetime ban from football, but insisted he will fight on to clear his name.
The Qatari was slapped with the ban in July after he was found guilty of trying to buy votes in the FIFA presidential race by offering Caribbean football officials $40,000 each.
He denied all the charges.
“Of course, today’s outcome from the Appeal Committee was not unexpected or surprising. To be fair to the Appeal Committee members though, as a consequence of our experiences with the Ethics Committee, we didn’t make serious efforts to prove my innocence this time around,” bin Hammam, 62, wrote on his website.
“I can now see, at last, light at the end of the tunnel and I am heading confidently towards it. My next step is to go to CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport) where from now on, I will be equal to my rival.”
Earlier Thursday, world governing body FIFA confirmed that the appeal had been rejected.
“The FIFA Appeal Committee, under the chairmanship of Francisco Acosta (Ecuador), has confirmed the decisions taken by the FIFA Ethics Committee on July 23, 2011 regarding the ban on FIFA Executive Committee member Mohammed bin Hammam for a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics,” said a FIFA statement.
“The appeal made by Mohammed bin Hammam has been rejected and the decision of the FIFA Ethics Committee confirmed. The sanction of being banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) at national and international level for life has therefore been maintained.”
Bin Hammam, the former head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), described the charges against him as “politically motivated”.
His suspension by FIFA over the bribery accusations led to his withdrawal from the world football body’s leadership election, handing incumbent president Sepp Blatter a fourth consecutive term in office.
The controversy highlighted allegations of corruption in FIFA and sparked calls for reform of its governance structure, which anti-graft watchdog Transparency International recently called “opaque”.
The vote-buying accusations also raised questions over last year’s controversial decision to award Qatar the right to host the 2022 World Cup, beating Australia, the United States, South Korea and Japan.
Bin Hammam, a former chairman of the Qatar Football Association, had played a key role in pre-vote lobbying for his home country’s bid.
His legal team is also planning to appeal to CAS over the right of FIFA to designate Zhang Jilong as ‘acting president’ of the Asian Football Confederation.