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Bin Hammam says FIFA president acted like a 'dictator' in banning him for life

LONDON - Mohamed bin Hammam has accused FIFA president Sepp Blatter of acting like a "dictator" in giving him a life ban from soccer over bribery allegations.

FIFA banned the suspended Asian Football Confederation president Saturday, just months after he helped Qatar win the right to host the 2022 World Cup.

But the Qatari denies giving cash to Caribbean officials in exchange for supporting his bid to become FIFA president and contends that the allegations were made because he was a threat to Blatter's re-election.

"This is actually the act of the dictators," bin Hammam said. "You have witnessed through history the dictators, when they think this or that person is a prominent one to replace him, first thing they do they execute him and try to fabricate any allegation against him to jail him or something like that.

"I don't know if Mr. Blatter considers himself a leader or not but the leader doesn't revenge."

In an interview with Sky Sports News broadcast Monday, bin Hammam acknowledged that the exchange of gifts between officials was commonplace at FIFA but said that did not constitute bribery and denied handing over cash.

"This is a normal, normal, normal practice," said bin Hammam, pointing at a watch on his left wrist. "This watch is a gift from somebody. It is a gesture. When I received it, I did not give anything.

"It depends about the tradition of the people. Maybe there are some traditions you are not familiar with from where you are coming. But it is traditional somewhere else."

Bin Hammam also continued to protest his innocence of wrongdoing in a statement on his website, suggesting that he acted entirely within FIFA's guidelines and reiterating his intention to appeal.

"The issue is whether I did something that was against the FIFA rules," bin Hammam said. "I believe FIFA alleged that I used cash to obtain votes. That is for them to prove and I can tell you categorically that I did not."

The FIFA ethics panel ruled that the Qatari candidate conspired to pay Caribbean officials US$40,000 cash bribes to back his challenge to Blatter, which he eventually abandoned to leave Blatter as the sole candidate.

Bin Hammam, a 15-year veteran of the FIFA executive committee, is the most senior soccer official convicted of corruption in its 107-year history.

"There has always been a burden of proof on FIFA to explain the charges and then to establish its case beyond any reasonable doubt," bin Hammam said. "I was astonished to hear that the ethics committee was very unsure what the charges were and could not agree between themselves.

"I believe that there was not a single piece of evidence FIFA had offered to show that I gave money to any delegates for votes."

Bin Hammam denied being unco-operative with the FIFA investigation and provided the committee with his bank statements.

"The transcript (of the hearing) should be made available to the media by FIFA so that you can judge the evidence and testimony for yourself," bin Hammam said. "I have nothing to hide and I hope FIFA will not use confidentiality as an excuse."

Despite his ban, Bin Hammam wrote to members of the AFC to say he will not resign the presidency of the regional body nor as a member of FIFA during his appeal.

"My candidacy for FIFA president was something which has been resisted by others by all means who pretend that they (support) democracy although they have no democracy principles," Bin Hammam wrote.

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