FIFA bans 3 football officials for life for taking bribes

FIFA said its ethics judges imposed “appropriate fines in relation to the amounts of the bribes that they have admitted having taken,” referring to the three officials who were banned for life. (Reuters)
Updated 21 November 2017
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FIFA bans 3 football officials for life for taking bribes

GENEVA: Three football officials who pleaded guilty in American courts to accepting bribes were banned for life by the FIFA ethics committee on Tuesday.
They include former FIFA audit committee member Richard Lai of Guam, who testified in federal court that the source of his bribe money was Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait.
“His guilty plea related, among others, to schemes in which he received bribes in exchange for his support in relation to the FIFA presidential elections and to gain control and influence within the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and FIFA,” the football body said of Lai in a statement.
Sheikh Ahmad referred his own case to the ethics committees of FIFA and the International Olympic Committee in April after Lai’s guilty plea was revealed. The Kuwaiti royal also withdrew from an election to retain his seat representing Asia on the FIFA Council.
The sheikh has denied wrongdoing and continues to work on Olympic duty, including chairing an IOC panel with a $500 million budget to distribute grants, and leading the global group of national Olympic committees known as ANOC.
Two more former football federation presidents, Rafael Esquivel of Venezuela and Julio Rocha of Nicaragua, were also banned for life Tuesday. They were arrested in Zurich in May 2015 in early morning raids on luxury hotels and later extradited to the United States.
Though the life bans were announced during the trial in Brooklyn of three other FIFA-connected officials from South America, the ethics panel investigations were separate and did not use new evidence being aired daily in court.
FIFA said its ethics judges imposed “appropriate fines in relation to the amounts of the bribes that they have admitted having taken.”
Esquivel was fined 1 million Swiss francs ($1 million), Lai was fined 870,000 Swiss francs ($870,000), and Rocha was fined 500,000 Swiss francs ($500,000). It is unclear if FIFA can enforce fines on people who have left the sport.
Lai, who is an American citizen, previously agreed to pay “more than $1.1 million in forfeiture and penalties,” the US Department of Justice said in April.
In court, Lai pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges related to taking about $1 million in bribes, including at least $850,000 from Kuwaiti officials.
Esquivel agreed to forfeit $16 million a year ago when he pleaded guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. His offenses were linked to the awarding of contracts for media and marketing rights to South American football competitions.
However, Esquivel’s name was cited Monday in Brooklyn during testimony in the ongoing trial of former football executives from Brazil, Paraguay and Peru, who deny corruption charges.
One witness who formerly worked for a marketing agency in Argentina said he kept a ledger of payments to officials, including a $750,000 payment to Esquivel for “Q2022.” Prosecutors did not specify if the payment was linked to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
FIFA has repeatedly declined to comment on allegations and evidence detailed in the current federal court case.
Rocha was a FIFA staffer working for its development department when he was arrested in 2015. He agreed to forfeit nearly $300,000 after admitting to racketeering conspiracy and wire fraud conspiracy charges last December.
All three banned officials are awaiting sentencing in Brooklyn.


England’s Oliver Fisher cards first 59 in European Tour history

Updated 21 September 2018
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England’s Oliver Fisher cards first 59 in European Tour history

  • The 30-year-old tapped in for par on the final hole to complete an astonishing 12-under-par round featuring 10 birdies and an eagle
  • Fisher, who was regarded as a possible future star as a teenage amateur, is ranked down at 287 in the world and had missed 11 cuts in his 22 previous events

VILAMOURA: Unheralded Englishman Oliver Fisher fired the first round of 59 in the European Tour’s 46-year history on a remarkable second day of the Portugal Masters on Friday.
The 30-year-old tapped in for par on the final hole to complete an astonishing 12-under-par round featuring 10 birdies and an eagle, after his long birdie putt for a 58 grazed the edge of the hole.
“It feels great, I started great and I kept it going,” Fisher said. “Just pleased I two-putted from 40 feet on the final green.”
Fisher, who was regarded as a possible future star as a teenage amateur, is ranked down at 287 in the world and had missed 11 cuts in his 22 previous events this season.
He also had to battle to save his tour card at the same tournament two years ago, but scaled heights that thousands of players had failed to reach before with his efforts on Friday.
“Two years ago I was on the same green just trying to keep my card, so I was keeping that in the back of my mind and trying to remember that it could be worse,” he added.
Fisher’s round gave him the clubhouse lead on 12-under for the tournament, with the majority of players still on the course.
Two other men had come close to the magical number at the Portugal Masters, with Scott Jamieson and Nicolas Colsaerts both missing putts to break 60 in 2013 and 2014 respectively.