- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2011

ZURICH (AP) - The head of FIFA’s appeals panel withdrew from a case involving Mohamed bin Hammam because he gave evidence of an alleged election bribery plot involving the Qatari official.

Larry Mussenden, a former Bermuda government attorney general, has recused himself from the appeal hearing, FIFA said Thursday.

Bin Hammam faces a full inquiry before FIFA’s ethics committee next month, but wants to overturn a provisional suspension. It bars the Asian Football Confederation president from all duties during the investigation.

Bermuda is among four Caribbean Football Union members whose officials refused $40,000 cash payments allegedly arranged by bin Hammam and former FIFA vice president Jack Warner in Trinidad last month.

Mussenden, who heads Bermuda’s soccer body, gave a sworn statement in an evidence dossier that sparked the scandal and prompted FIFA’s ethics panel to suspend two of world soccer’s most powerful figures.

A FIFA report into their initial hearings found “compelling” evidence of bribery. It states that Mussenden told his general secretary David Sabir not to accept an envelope stuffed with $100 bills after a May 10 meeting with bin Hammam.

Sabir represented Bermuda when CFU members were invited to hear the Qatari candidate’s pitch at a hotel on Warner’s home island.

Bin Hammam then allegedly offered cash _ “at least indirectly and under the pledge of secrecy” _ intended to influence them to back him against FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the ethics panel said.

The panel’s report said Sabir immediately telephoned Mussenden, who “advised him that the Bermuda Football Association would not accept any cash gifts.”

Any payment “would have to be accompanied by the proper letters authorizing such contribution and it would need to be wire transferred.

“Mr. Mussenden confirmed in his affidavit sent to the secretariat to the Ethics Committee upon its request that he advised Mr. Sabir as set out above,” the document stated.

FIFA dropped its investigation of Warner on Monday, saying it no longer had legal authority over the Trinidad and Tobago government minister because he quit all his soccer positions.

Warner denies wrongdoing and retained a “presumption of innocence,” FIFA insisted. He is still required as a witness in the case against bin Hammam, who also denies the allegations.

FIFA said it had not appointed Mussenden’s replacement to chair bin Hammam’s hearing.

The appeals committee deputy chairmen are Madagascar federation president Ahmad, and Solomon Islands lawyer Charles Ashley.

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