The two Asian football officials have been found guilty of seeking and accepting bribes at elections to choose members of FIFA’s Executive Committee. They have been handed 10 and two-year bans.
FIFA has banned the president of Nepal’s football association for 10 years after he was implicated for bribery at elections to choose Asian delegates on the world governing body’s Executive Committee.
FIFA said All-Nepal Football Association President Ganesh Thapa (pictured above) was guilty of “solicitation and acceptance of cash payments from another football official, for both personal and family gain” connected to the 2009 and 2011 FIFA Executive Committee elections at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) congress.
The decade-long ban on Thapa was a new blow to Nepal football after several national team players were accused of match-fixing earlier this month. Nepal captain, Sagar Thapa, and four other players have been charged with treason over alleged match-fixing in World Cup qualifiers. Prosecutors have sought sentences of life imprisonment for the five players, each of whom has denied the charges.
Thapa, who has lost his place on FIFA’s Under-20 World Cup organizing committee, had been a vice president of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) when it was led by now-banned Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar.
The ban comes more than three years after a forensic audit of AFC accounts found that Thapa’s son, Guarav Thapa, had received $100,000 (93,200 euros) from Bin Hammam in July-August 2009. Guarav was then an AFC staff member, the audit report said.
In May 2009, Bin Hammam won a bitterly contested election to retain his FIFA Executive Committee seat against Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain, who is now a FIFA presidential candidate.
The 2009 election was marred by allegations of vote-buying by both sides.
Another Bin Hammam ally, Vernon Manilal Fernando of Sri Lanka, was later banned for life by FIFA for bribing voters. Fernando won his own seat on the FIFA ruling panel in a January 2011 election meeting in Doha, Qatar, where Bin Hammam was re-elected AFC president and three Asian delegates to FIFA were chosen.
The FIFA ruling on Thapa case did not specify which FIFA seats in 2011 were tainted by election bribery.
In addition to the 10-year ban, Thapa was fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($19,900, 18,500 euros).
Laos official barred
In a related case, the top soccer official from Laos has also been suspended from soccer for two years by FIFA’s Ethics Committee.
Laos Football Federation President Viphet Sihachakr was found to have sought and accepted a payment from another official relating to the 2011 election for a place on FIFA’s Executive Committee.
Sihachakr was also fined 40,000 Swiss francs (about $39,700, 37,000 euros). He will also lose his place on the FIFA Development Committee which allocates tens of millions of dollars annually in project funding.
ap/pfd (AFP, AP)