FIFA Election was a Sham

The withdrawal of Mohamed bin Hammam from the FIFA presidential election has confirmed what was clear about this election all along; that it is nothing more than a sham election, designed to provide the illusion of democracy within this most dictatorial of governing bodies.

FIFA has resorted to the old tricks that it always pulls when confronted with questions of corruption.

Bin Hammam had been due to run against his long time friend and associate Sepp Blatter at next week's election. However, his false election campaign hit a serious snag when, following recent claims of corruption in regards to the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to his home country Qatar, he was called to face a FIFA ethics committee.

It wasn't meant to go like this. Bin Hammam was meant to go down under the illusion of a 'fight' with Blatter. Blatter was to win convincingly and gracefully hand Bin Hammam several plush committee positions.

Accordingly, Bin Hammam's campaign had been half hearted. More pointedly, the campaign of the energetically cunning Blatter had been the same; a far cry from traditional FIFA politicking which has always been known to be ruthless, blunt and excessively lavish.

When Joao Havelange infamously ousted the naive and Euro-centric Sir Stanley Rous as FIFA president in 1974, Havelange threw millions at the poorer nations in order to gain a majority. He campaigned for years and made elaborate promises in order to get them to turn out and vote. Blatter repeated this practice when campaigning successfully alongside the retiring Havelange against UEFA's Lennart Johansson in the late 1990's.

This year's election has been comparatively quiet and an obvious sham.

So, with his back to the wall and the pending ethics committee hearing that no one really wanted, Bin Hammam was forced to announce his withdrawal from the presidency race a few days early. And what better time to announce this that when the world is pre-occupied by the Champion's League final.

Hammam had entered the election in opposition to current president Sepp Blatter but he is now unopposed in his bid for re-election.

Blatter is still due to face the ethics committee, along with Bin Hammam and FIFA vice-president Jack Warner. Bin Hammam and Warner face charges of bribery. It is now unlikely that Blatter will be called forward. It is also probable that any investigation against Bin Hammam and Warner will find no evidence of corruption.

Bin Hammam had campaigned on a promise to make FIFA more transparent but there now looks to be no need for a vote following his decision to withdraw.

Bin Hammam said in his statement: "I made the decision to run for the FIFA presidency because I was and remain committed to change within FIFA.

"I set out my goals and ambitions clearly - to further the cause of democracy within FIFA - through a commitment to transparency and accountability; through a commitment to expand the number of officials and nations involved in decision-making processes.

"In addition to this, I wanted to spark a debate about change in FIFA. For the good of football, I wanted the future to be bright for our world's governing body and for it to adapt to the ever-changing world we live in today.

"However, recent events have left me hurt and disappointed - on a professional and personal level.

"It saddens me that standing up for the causes that I believed in has come at a great price - the degradation of FIFA's reputation. This is not what I had in mind for FIFA and this is unacceptable.

"I cannot allow the name that I loved to be dragged more and more in the mud because of competition between two individuals.

"The game itself and the people who love it around the world must come first.

"It is for this reason that I announce my withdrawal from the presidential election.

"I will not put my personal ambition ahead of FIFA's dignity and integrity.

"Besides, I believe my candidacy has been a catalyst for debate within FIFA and has brought change to the top of the agenda.

"I pray that my withdrawal will not be tied to the investigation held by the FIFA Ethics Committee as I will appear before the Ethics Committee to clear my name from the baseless allegations that have been made against me.

"I promise those who stood by me that I will walk with my head held high and will continue to fight for the good of the game.

"I would like to offer my thanks and appreciation to all Member Associations and individuals who supported me. I hope that they will not receive my decision with disappointment and frustration.

"I have a special thank you to my friend and colleague Jack Warner for his unlimited support. I am sorry to see that he has to suffer because of me, but I am promising him that I will be with him all the way through thick and thin.

"I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to restore FIFA's reputation to what it should be - a protector of the game that has credibility through honesty, transparency and accountability."

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