The world football body, FIFA, has announced that its Ethics Committee Panel will meet on 22 and 23 July to examine the cases of Mohamed bin Hammam, a FIFA Exco member and President of the Asian Football Confederation, and two Caribbean Football Union officials, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester. On 29 May 2011 the Ethics Panel "provisionally suspended" all from taking part in any football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) worldwide in relation to an alleged breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics and the FIFA Disciplinary Code linked to the then upcoming FIFA presidential election.
The three officials have since received the report on the investigations conducted by the Ethics Committee and have been invited to present their position in writing prior to the meeting of 22 July.
Bin Hammam, Jack Warner (then FIFA Vice Chairman, President of CONCACAF, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, and the CFU), Minguell and Sylvester were accused of involvement in a plot to bribe Caribbean football officials with $40,000 cash payments ahead of bin Hammam's failed election challenge to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
When Warner promptly resigned all of his football positions, FIFA announced it no longer had authority over him and declared that he retained a "presumption of innocence." Bin Hammam vehemently denied any wrongdoing and rejected calls for his own resignation.
However, a leaked report revealed that the Ethics Panel believed it had "compelling" evidence of a bribery plot when bin Hammam and Warner invited CFU members to a 10-11 May meeting in Trinidad and reportedly stated that representatives of four CFU member countries had given "coherent, credible and detailed" witness statements testifying to the attempted bribery..
The Panel found "comprehensive, convincing and overwhelming evidence" that Warner arranged the meeting specifically to enable corruption. Bin Hammam allegedly offered cash "at least indirectly and under the pledge of secrecy" intended to influence them to back him against Blatter, the report said, and it was "impossible" to think Warner was unaware of the payments and their intention to influence how CFU members voted.
The scandal broke one week before the 1 June FIFA congress. Bin Hammam withdrew his candidacy three days before the poll and Blatter was elected unopposed for a fourth four-year term.
The new hearings with Mohamed bin Hammam, Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester will take place on 22 July, when the parties as well as the Ethics Committee also have the opportunity to call on potential witnesses. On 23 July, the Ethics Committee will deliberate and decide on the cases.
According to media reports, the Ethics Panel will be chaired by the Ethic Committee's Vice Chairman, Namibian judge Petrus Damaseb. The other members of the committee are Claudio Sulser (Switzerland) Chairman, and Ariel Alvardo (Panama), Juan Pedro Damiani (Uruguay), Abdoulaye Mokhtar Diop (Senegal), Burton K. Haimes (USA), Les Murray (Australia), Dominique Rocheteau (France), Roosje Suwae (Papua New Guinea), Surya Tahir Dharma (Indonesia), Robert Torres (Guam), Sondre Kaafjord (Norway) and Jorge Ivan Palacio (Colombia).
After participating in the decision to suspend the officials, Les Murray told the Sydney Morning Herald he felt FIFA needed major reform. "I think the reform has to be very deep. In all reality, there probably has to be complete structural and also constitutional reform," he said. "The structure of the organisation at the moment is too political. Decisions are based on political motives and that's not healthy for any organisation. That simply has to change."
However Murray was soon embroiled in a controversy of his own in Australia when he was forced to make a public apology to Socceroo captain Lucas Neill regarding untrue allegations published in Murray's latest book.
Lisle Austin, the acting president of CONCACAF, has now been banned twice from football-related activities by FIFA. The latest action is the result of Austin breaching FIFA regulations by using a civil court for an internal football ruling rather than the Court of Arbitration of Sport.
A FIFA spokesman told Press Association Sport: "We can confirm that he has been provisionally suspended by the disciplinary committee on Monday for lodging a claim in front of the State Court of Bahamas."