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FIFA bans three former officials for life

FIFA’s ethics watchdogs have banned three former football officials from Guam, Nicaragua and Venezuela for life as part of efforts to address widespread corruption in the sport, the world football governing body said on Tuesday.

The latest officials to be hit by FIFA bans are Richard Lai, the former Guam Football Association president and a former member of the FIFA audit and compliance committee.

Others are Julio Rocha, the former Nicaraguan Football Association president and a former FIFA development officer; and Rafael Esquivel, former Venezuelan Football Association president.

All three men had pleaded guilty in the United States to separate federal charges ranging from wire fraud to racketeering and money laundering.

Mr. Lai pleaded guilty to taking one million dollars from officials looking to buy influence, with powerful International Olympic Committee member Ahmad Al-Sabah of Kuwait implicated.

Rocha and Esquivel pleaded guilty to taking bribes in exchange for the awarding of media and marketing rights of matches including World Cup qualifiers and regional tournaments such as the Copa America.

NAN reports that the U.S. has charged some 40 individuals and entities following an investigation into corruption in football’s world governing body Fifa.

Sixteen new officials were charged by the U.S. Department of Justice on December 3, 2015.

This is in addition to the 14 people, nine Fifa officials and five corporate executives – indicted on corruption charges at the end of May, some of whom have now been convicted.

Several other individuals and entities have pleaded guilty and have been convicted.

Jack Warner, 72, from Trinidad and Tobago, was a member of Fifa’s executive committee from 1983 to 2011, when he resigned amid allegations he had bribed Caribbean associates.

At the time he said he had been “hung out to dry”, insisting that the giving of gifts had been part of Fifa culture during his 30 years in the organisation.

The investigation mostly revolved around collusion between officials of continental football bodies of South America (CONMEBOL) and the Caribbean, Central and North America (CONCACAF) and sports marketing executives.

The sports marketing executives were holders of media and marketing rights for high-profile international competitions including the Americas’ FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments, and showpiece tournaments CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa América.

Source: Reuters

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