December 17 - The most damaging scandal in the history of FIFA came to an abrupt conclusion today when Mohamed Bin Hammam dropped his long-running fight to clear his name, walking away after being banned for life by FIFA for "repeated violations" of the world governing body's code of ethics while he was head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
An announcement from FIFA headquarters in Zurich said the former FIFA Presidential candidate had thrown in the towel and resigned from all football-related activities following accusations that he seriously mismanaged AFC funds for personal use.
Bin Hammam (pictured top) was already under suspension and had been given 45 days to respond to what is understood to be a damning final report of FIFA-appointed prosecutor Michael Garcia into alleged malpractice at the heart of Asian football.
However, before he could answer the accusations, he was banned for life - for the second time in 18 months but on different charges and this time by the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA's revamped Ethics Committee.
Details of Garcia's findings have not been published but sources close to the case told insidethegames there was too much incriminatory evidence for the tireless Bin Hammam to fend off.
According to FIFA, Bin Hammam, who was not only a FIFA vice-president but also the most powerful man in Asian football until the bribery scandal that erupted last year, sent a resignation letter to both FIFA and the AFC on December 15.
FIFA said in a statement: "Mr Mohamed Bin Hammam, FIFA Executive Committee member and AFC President, has resigned from all his positions in football with immediate effect and will never be active in organised football again.
"In view of the fact that under the new FIFA Code of Ethics, the FIFA Ethics Committee remains competent to render a decision even if a person resigns, the adjudicatory chamber decided to ban Mohamed Bin Hammam from all football-related activity for life.
"This life ban is based on the final report of Michael J Garcia, chairman of the investigatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee."
"That report showed repeated violations of Article 19 (conflict of interest) of the FIFA code of ethics, edition 2012, of Mohamed Bin Hammam during his terms as AFC President and as member of the FIFA Executive Committee in the years 2008 to 2011, which justified a lifelong ban from all football-related activity."
Only recently, Garcia, FIFA's top corruption buster, dropped his investigation into the bribery case that originally snared Bin Hammam.
Garcia had been seeking more evidence that Bin Hammam bribed Caribbean voters during his election challenge to FIFA President Sepp Blatter last year.
Bin Hammam was banned for life for that too but the sanction was lifted by Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in July even though the ruling did not pronounce him totally innocent of the charges against him.
The fresh probe was not able to uncover enough new evidence and Garcia announced that no new charges would be brought.
But when it came to the AFC allegations, a harsher verdict was imposed by the Ethics Committee - one which Bin Hammam either would not or could not challenge, bringing an end to a long and bitter war of words between supporters and opponents of the 63-year-old Qatari.
Bin Hammam had always insisted that he had done nothing wrong and that the allegations against him were nothing more than a conspiracy orchestrated by the Blatter camp, a claim he could never prove.
When he launched his candidacy to oust Blatter in the spring of last year he felt he had strong chance of success given the fact that FIFA was already mired in the debacle of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup ballots.
To try to gain support, he went to Trinidad and Tobago for a meeting with Caribbean voters organised by then Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) President Jack Warner.
It was there, infamously, that delegates were reportedly offered $40,000 (£25,000/€30,000) in cash in brown envelopes.
Warner, FIFA's longest serving vice-president, resigned from all footballing activities rather than face the music but Bin Hammam stayed on to fight.
Announcing his resignation today, he remained defiant to the last, clearly believing he was set up with unfounded allegations from which there was ultimately no escape.
"I do not want to spend any more of my life fighting trumped up allegations and to focus instead on my family and businesses," he said in an emailed statement.
"However, if further allegations are made I will, of course, defend myself in the same way that I did in the past."
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