AFC chief calls for co-operation in Bin Hammam investigation
07 Aug 2012
Acting Asian Football Confederation (AFC) president Zhang Jilong has called on the organisation’s 46 member associations to offer their “unconditional and unreserved support” to the ongoing corruption investigation into his predecessor Mohamed bin Hammam.
Jilong said in a statement on Monday that the AFC has engaged Freeh Group International Solutions to aid in the investigation due to its “specific complexity”. The agency is headed by former FBI director Louis Freeh, who led FIFA’s probe into allegations that Bin Hammam attempted to bribe voters during last year’s FIFA presidential election campaign.
“We would like to point out that it is crucial that the Freeh Group receive unconditional and unreserved support and cooperation by all AFC officials, bodies, and member associations,” said Jilong in a statement. “The proceedings presently relevant are not about incriminating or discrediting certain persons but aim at establishing the truth and, on a broader scale, at safeguarding the integrity and interests of football under the AFC’s jurisdiction. It is of utmost importance that the investigation is carried out in an unimpaired and neutral manner. The Freeh Group has AFC’s unreserved trust that it will do so, and it is therefore vital that any entity or person deemed of interest by the Freeh Group fully cooperates.”
Freeh’s initial investigation into Bin Hammam’s conduct resulted in FIFA issuing a life ban to the Qatari official – a decision the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned last month. However, the former head of the AFC is yet to clear his name as CAS refused to declare his innocence, stating that the ban was overturned due to a failure to produce conclusive evidence. The AFC had earlier announced Bin Hammam had been handed a new suspension for “possible violations” of its statutes, disciplinary code and code of ethics. These allegations stem from an audit prepared by the international accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report alleges that Bin Hammam ran Asian football like a family business, negotiating contracts on his own and mixing his personal and AFC bank accounts.