SANTIAGO: Harold Mayne-Nicholls is to appeal against the seven-year suspension imposed on him by FIFA last July – now that he has finally learned the reasoning for the ethics committee decision writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Mayne-Nicholls, former president of the Chilean football federation, had headed the technical inspection team in the scandal-hit 2018-2022 World Cup bid process.

Harold Mayne-Nicholls . . . in the eye of a World Cup storm

The world governing body’s ethics committee had taken so long to provide Mayne-Nicholls with the reasoning that it ran the risk of contravening norms of natural justice.

A further issue was the political decision to prioritise the later cases of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini ahead of his own.

Mayne-Nicholls was found to have have breached four articles of the ethics code in having “ignored his responsibility as a high-ranking official” in “repeatedly [asking] for personal favours related to the hosting and training of his relatives (a son, nephew and brother-in-law) at an institution linked with a bid committee.”

Aspire Academy

The country concerned was Qatar and the institution was the Aspire Academy which, while not directly involved in the bid oranisation, co-operated with it in demostrating the futuristic nature of facilities in the Gulf state.

Mayne-Nicholls and his lawyer, Carlos Morales, flew to Zurich last week to demand answers to his objections but said he found only “locked doors.”

He said: “What happens in FIFA is very strange. Hard to understand. I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s like a paranoia.”

The legal route for Mayne-Nicholls is to go first to the FIFA appeal committee and then to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

He thought, recalling the hearing last summer, that proper weight had not been given to his statements in his own defence and that the decision had been “a formality with no real sense of fair treatment.”

He said: “The Aspire Academy was not part of Qatar’s 2022 bid. This was about an opportunity to provide education for two children and was not a conflict of interest because I had proposed paying all the expenses involved.”

Mayne-Nicholls complained that FIFA’s focus had shifted, over the years, from the good of football to the good of its finances.

He said: “When I first became involved with FIFA in 1993 the football was the most important factor but, over time, marketing and television rights became more and more important.

“We must restore the credibility of football – as the International Olympic Committee was able to do after the Salt Lake City scandal.”