LAUSANNE: Vernon Manilal Fernando, a former member of the FIFA executive committee, has had his life ban from football confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
In October 2013 the Sri Lankan businessman and lawyer Vernon Manilal Fernando appealed against an eight-year ban which was imposed the previous April by FIFA for accepting bribes.
Complaining proved his downfall because, simultaneously, FIFA’s then-prosecutor Michael J Garcia was successful in countering with an appeal of his own against the leniency of the sentence.
Manilal, charged formally over articles of the world federation’s statutes including those covering bribery and corruption, had been suspended provisionally in March 2013 by Garcia and judge Hans-Joachim Eckert on allegations thought to have been linked with the Mohamed Bin Hammam election scandal of 2011.
Fernando accompanied the Qatari on his flight to Port of Spain in May 2011 during the FIFA presidential campaign. Bin Hammam was later banned for life over allegations – which he denied – of the offering of illegal inducements to senior officials of the Caribbean football federations.
Bin Hammam and Fernando were accompanied by Thailand’s Worawi Makudi who remains a member of the FIFA exco.
Manilal was not a member of the FIFA exco which, in December 2010, voted controversially to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar respectively. But he joined it in the following January for what proved a short-lived spell at FIFA’s top table.
Other members of the exco who, along with Bin Hammam, also subsequently left the game under a cloud included Trinidadian Jack Warner, Brazilian Ricardo Teixeira, Paraguayan Nicolas Leoz and American Chuck Blazer.
A FIFA statement concerning the CAS verdict said:
FIFA has taken note of the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the case involving former FIFA Executive Committee member Vernon Manilal Fernando, who was sanctioned by the FIFA Appeal Committee for several violations of the FIFA Code of Ethics, 2012 edition, in particular art. 19 (Conflicts of interest), art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) and art. 21 (Bribery and corruption).
CAS has fully confirmed the sanction imposed by the FIFA Appeal Committee which saw Vernon Manilal Fernando sanctioned with a lifetime ban from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level.
With this decision, FIFA considers that CAS has shown clear and strong support for FIFA’s fight against unethical behaviours in football, which was reinforced with the recent reform process that the organisation underwent and the introduction of a new independent Ethics Committee.