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Three Former FIFA Officials Banned for Life From Sport

FIFA’s independent Ethics Committee on Tuesday banned three former football officials for life from all national and international activities related to the sport, wrote a FIFA press statement.

The former presidents of the Guam, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan football associations—Richard Lai, Rafael Esquivel and Julio Rocha respectively—were found guilty of corruption on the terms of FIFA’s Code of Ethics. In addition to the ban, the FIFA ethics watchdogs fined each of them amounts appropriate to their scale of bribery.

The three banned officials each previously pleaded guilty in the United States to charges including wire fraud and money laundering.

FIFA began investigating Lai in April 2017. His case implicated former Kuwaiti FIFA councilor Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah as a potential suspect. Documents indicate that Al-Sabah bribed Lai for support in the FIFA presidential election, according to BBC.

FIFA began investigating Esquivel and Rocha in May 2015. Their cases related to the distribution of contracts for broadcasting and marketing rights of football tournaments.

In New York, three separate football officials are on trial for similar allegations of bribery over broadcasting rights. This past week, the trial of Juan Angel Napout, former president of Paraguay’s soccer federation, Manuel Burga, former president of Peru’s soccer federation and Jose Maria Marin, former president of Brazil’s soccer federation, evolved with allegations of witness tampering, death threats and the involvement of the powerful Qatari, Nasser al-Khelaifi in the accused’s bribery. Additionally, a witness divulged that those on trial were codenamed after cars—Napout as “Honda” and Burga as “Fiat,” according to Reuters.

In the US probe of bribery amongst FIFA officials, prosecutors thus far indicted 42 people and entities for allegedly receiving millions of dollars in bribes.

The multinational FIFA bribery scheme involving all the aforementioned officials allegedly lasted 24 years and involved more than US$ 150 million in bribes.

occrp.org