A senior Qatari official who recently overturned a one-year FIFA
ban said on Tuesday the case against him was "political" and may
stand again for the all-powerful FIFA Council.
Saoud Al-Mohannadi, the Qatar Football Association's
vice-president, was making his first public comments since
winning his appeal against the ban, handed down by a FIFA ethics
committee last year.
He was also fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,000, 18,700 euros) for
refusing to cooperate with a corruption inquiry.
But in a rare reversal, Al-Mohannadi last month successfully
overturned the sanctions against him.
"I was condemned with the wrong decision and it just took the
appeals committee of FIFA to see that," Al-Mohannadi told AFP.
"They didn't have a case, they knew that it was political.
"I wanted to clear my name after all these years in football, you
know you don't want to end your career with suspicion, especially
if you had no wrongdoing."
Asked who was behind the politics, Al-Mohannadi replied: "You can
say FIFA in general, and I don't blame FIFA now because of all
this what's happening around FIFA and football."
Al-Mohannadi's long-running case has proved controversial for
football's scandal-hit governing body and now threatens to
overshadow next month's FIFA Congress in Bahrain.
Just three days before, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC)
will hold a meeting and vote in Bahrain to elect members to the
FIFA Council, which the governing body says "sets the vision for
FIFA and global football".
This is the ballot which Al-Mohannadi, also vice-president of the
AFC, is currently excluded from, having missed a deadline to
stand which passed during his ban.
Asked if he still might put his name forward, Al-Mohannadi said
he was "examining" the issue.
He also said he would attend the meeting in Bahrain.
It was the furore over the AFC's abandoned FIFA Council vote last
September which brought Al-Mohannadi's case to wider attention.
The Qatari, one of the favourites to win, was stopped at the very
last minute from standing for election.
Outraged AFC members, some believing FIFA was using its ethics
body to influence the result of the election, cancelled the vote.
Two months later Al-Mohannadi was banned for a year for refusing
to help in an investigation, FIFA announced.
Although the target of the inquiry was not specified, AFP
understands that it involved a FIFA investigation into Najeeb
Chirakal, a personal assistant to Mohamed bin Hammam, the Qatari
powerbroker thought most responsible for bringing the World Cup
to the Gulf in 2022.
When being handed the ban, Al-Mohannadi was accused of infringing
"his duty to collaborate as a witness in proceedings".
It was this ruling that FIFA's appeal committee dismissed.
Papers seen by AFP show the committee ruled "that the evidence
available" was not "sufficient" to support the initial findings