Sports

FIFA bans three disgraced officials for life

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — FIFA's ethics committee on Tuesday slapped lifetime bans on three former world football executives who have all pleaded guilty to corruption charges in US courts.

Rafael Esquivel, a former head of the Venezuelan Football Association, Nicaragua's Julio Rocha, a former FIFA development officer, and Richard Lai of Guam, who served on FIFA's auditing body, have all been barred from any further involvement in the sport.

"The adjudicatory chamber found Mr Lai, Mr Rocha and Mr Esquivel guilty of having violated article 21 (bribery and corruption) of the FIFA Code of Ethics," said a statement from the ethics watchdog of world football's governing body.

"The officials are banned for life from all football-related activities... at national and international level," it added.

The three are among the 42 officials and marketing executives who have been indicted by the United States justice department as part of its sprawling probe into football corruption.

Esquivel, who also served as the vice president of South American governing body CONMEBOL, pleaded guilty to racketeering and wire fraud in November of last year.

He admitted to taking bribes in exchange for the awarding of football media and marketing rights. Rocha, who once headed Nicaragua's football association, pleaded guilty to similar offences in December 2016.

Lai, in addition to his FIFA role, also led the football association in his native Guam. He pleaded guilty in April to a variety of corruption-related offences including selling his vote ahead of FIFA elections.

The US investigation, which came to light in May 2015, uncorked the largest scandal in the history of world football.

The first trial in the case began last week in New York, where three South American former officials are accused of graft worth millions of dollars.

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