ZURICH: Another former member of the FIFA executive committee has had his banned from football extended from eight years to for life for accepting bribes writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Sri Lankan businessman and lawyer Vernon Manilal Fernando failed in an appeal against the eight-year ban which was imposed on April 30: simultaneously independent prosecutor Michael J Garcia had his own appeal against the leniency of the original sentence upheld.
Fernando had been charged originally over articles of the world federation’s statutes including those covering bribery and corruption.
He had been suspended provisionally in March by Michael 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.
Fernando, who intends to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, said: “I am disappointed by the decision but I am not surprised. It is their own process that gave me eight years and now their own process is saying that I should be given a life ban.
“I have sought the advice of my lawyers and I will be going to the CAS which is at least outside the FIFA and then I will hope that I will get justice there.
“I feel that due to my friendship with Mohamed Bin Hammam and my relationship with him they consider that they have now finished Hammam, so maybe they want to do the same with me.”
After his suspension, the Asian confederation decided to replace Fernando on the FIFA executive with China’s Zhang Jilong.
Following a two-day hearing in Zurich, the FIFA Appeal Committee has decided to impose on Vernon Manilal Fernando a lifetime ban from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level.
The Appeal Committee reached the decision following separate appeals lodged by Mr Fernando and by the chief of investigation, Michael J. Garcia, against the decision rendered by the adjudicatory chamber of the FIFA Ethics Committee on 30 April 2013 to ban Mr Fernando from taking part in any football-related activity for a period of eight years.
The appeal lodged by Mr Fernando has been rejected by the Appeal Committee.
The appeal lodged by Mr Garcia has been upheld by the Appeal Committee. The lifetime ban has been imposed on Mr Fernando for violations of art. 13 (General rules of conduct), art. 19 (Conflicts of interest), art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits), art. 21 (Bribery and corruption), and art. 42 (General obligation to collaborate) of the FIFA Code of Ethics, 2012 edition.